California Already Leading the Way for Female Leadership
By Laurie Greene, Editor
Earlier this year, BASF — the world’s largest chemical company — came out with a commitment by 2021 to represent women in management in equal proportion to the percentage of women in the company worldwide. Amber Shirley, district manager in BASF’s Sierra District, which includes California and Arizona, said, “We’re seeking by that time to have 22-24% women in management.”
“BASF is committed to doing that by bringing women through the organization at all levels,” said Shirley. “One of the exciting things is, here in California, we have three women on the management team of our agricultural products division, which is really leading the entire country in the number of women in management.”
Shirley elaborated, “Women on the BASF team in California can be found all the way up from our technical area, to our field rep level, as well as our district manager, which is the role I have.”
BASF recognizes that in order to really be innovative and bring new ideas to the marketplace, they have to bring diversity throughout their organization. “One way of doing that is to bring different perspectives, different areas of thought into our organization. Women certainly bring a new area of thought into an arena that has typically been very male-dominated, like agriculture,” she said.
The American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Program has launched “Women in Ag,” an online survey that aims to gauge the goals, aspirations, achievements and needs of women in American agriculture in a number of different areas.
All women who are farmers, ranchers, farm/ranch employees, employed in agricultural businesses, pursuing ag-related higher education or supportive of agriculture in other ways are invited to participate in the survey at womeninag.fb.org. Respondents must reside in the United States. Farm Bureau membership is not required to participate.
“This comprehensive survey is the first of its kind to ask women in-depth questions about how they are connected to agriculture and what leadership skills they think are most important today, as well as the top business challenges they’re facing,” said Terry Gilbert, a Kentucky farmer and chair of the American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee. “All women involved in agriculture – not just Farm Bureau members – are invited to participate in the survey,” Gilbert emphasized.
Data collected from respondents will be used to gauge trends related to the achievements of women in agriculture, including leadership positions, business successes and election to public office.
The AFB Women’s Leadership Committee is sponsoring the survey and is working with other farm and agriculture organizations to encourage participation. Participants will be eligible for an opportunity to win one of five $100 gift cards after the survey closes. Preliminary findings from the survey will be released in February 2015 at AFBF’s FUSION Conference in Nashville, Tennessee; the full report will be released in late spring.