NICHOLASVILLE, KENTUCKY, U.S. — The agriculture industry is making progress in closing the gender gap and employees feel their organizations are becoming more inclusive, according to results from the Women in Food and Agriculture survey conducted by Alltech and AgriBriefing.

Results from the survey, which was part of the 2019 Women in Food & Agriculture Summit, were released earlier in December. The purpose of the survey was to gain real-world insights into the “professional landscape for women in agriculture.”

According to the results, 97% of women indicated they’re confident in their ability to positively impact the future of the industry.

“The Women in Food and Agriculture survey revealed a great deal about where the agri-food sector stands on inclusion, and illuminated where we need to collaborate to affect positive change,” said Mark Lyons, president and chief executive officer of Alltech.  “There are challenges to overcome yet there are several steps that organizations can start to take, and proven examples of how to bring about success. Now is the time to unify and affect change on the overall industry. We must continue to collaborate and create an environment for positive, productive conversations.”

More than 2,500 respondents from across the supply chain and around the world participated. Companies represented in the survey covered the entire industry ranging from farmers (20%) to employees of large agrifood businesses with more than 3,000 employees (25% of respondents). Seventy-two percent of the respondents were female and 28% were male.

There was a vast difference in workplace perceptions among the female and male respondents. Half of the female respondents agreed that women are well represented in the leadership of their organizations while 65% of men agreed.

In terms of overall female representation, 65% of women agreed women are well represented and 76% of men agreed.

“When asked if women were respected in their organization, 59% of men strongly agreed vs. 32% of women,” Alltech said in the results.

Respondents in Asia were most likely to report women were well-represented in leadership (83%), followed by Europe (67%), Africa (66%) and the Americas (65%). Only half of those in Oceania agreed.

When asked about harassment, responses varied greatly between female and male respondents. Fewer than 9% of men said they had witnessed or experienced verbal sexual harassment in the workplace. More than one-in-four (27%) women had.

Looking at women only, the survey showed two of every five women had witnessed or been the target of a sexist comment, and one-in-five suffered a verbal sexual harassment.

The survey also asked about barriers in progressing a career in the industry. Sixty-eight percent of women said equal pay was a barrier and 75% said lack of mentors.

Another significant barrier was lack of a strong personal network, with 65% of women agreeing.