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Research Highlights Lack Of Female Leadership In The NZ Horticulture Industry

Auckland, 31 August 2020: Research commissioned by industry collective Women in Horticulture shows significant gender disparity amongst senior roles in New Zealand’s horticulture industry.

Despite women representing 50 percent of workers in the industry, the UMR study found women held less than 20 percent of leadership positions, with women missing from the top tables of many of our horticultural organisations.

A new website launched this week aims to tackle this imbalance by fostering an environment which will empower, value and support the thousands of women working in the horticulture industry across New Zealand.

Women in Horticulture (WiH),,is the brainchild of a group of female business leaders employed in a variety of management roles across New Zealand’s horticulture industry. Representing members throughout the supply chain, WiH is dedicated to raising the profile of women in the industry and to encouraging women’s participation from entry level to right through to leadership roles.

Catherine Lewis, executive member of WiH and Director of Lewis Farms, says the website has been developed as a place for people to go to find out about the organisation’s activities as well as a place to share women’s stories.

“The website currently profiles a number of women across different sectors of our industry, with many more to come as we work towards inspiring and connecting women in the industry.”

General Manager of United Fresh and Executive Member of WiH, Paula Dudley wants to encourage positive change in the industry.

“United Fresh has an ongoing commitment to gender equality and diversity in all horticultural workplaces.

“Encouraging more women to step into leadership roles within the industry will recognise the vital contribution women make in an industry worth $6 billion to the New Zealand economy,” says Dudley.

Diversity is also a factor in economic growth and in improving returns across the industry. WiH research highlights that while the majority of household buying decisions are made by women, the majority of horticultural management decisions are made by men.

“Women have a significant contribution to make to the decision-making process at all levels of the industry. Our work aims to demonstrate this contribution and provide guidance and inspiration to women of all ages considering a career in the horticulture industry.

“Women are present at all levels of horticulture throughout New Zealand. This is positive progress - we just need lots more of it,” says Lewis.

The impact of COVID-19 on the New Zealand economy has provided further impetus to the work of WiH. A COVID-19 recovery strategy produced by Horticulture NZ identifies the need to increase diversity of gender, thinking and culture in order to bring a new workforce into the industry.

“With women representing nearly 90 percent of those Kiwis who have become unemployed due to the pandemic, WiH has identified the urgent need and massive opportunity for women to become more engaged in the horticulture industry.”

“Horticulture provides a really diverse range of employment opportunities, it’s not just about the hands-on practical skills. Roles in science, accounting, logistics, marketing and environmental issues are just a sample of the options on offer for women wanting to join the industry,” says Dudley.

As well as promoting the role of women in the industry, the WiH website will also be an employment and education resource offering information on board opportunities, scholarships and awards available throughout the horticulture sector.

“The website will be regularly updated with industry information as well as future special events and activities for members as we work towards our vision of a collaborative, innovative industry that empowers women at all levels. We are committed to diversity and welcome membership from anyone whose personal beliefs resonate with our vision and purpose,” says Lewis.

If you would like your profile added to the website, or you would like to become a member of Women in Horticulture, please contact

About Women in Horticulture

Women in Horticulture is a collective founded to promote the role of women in the New Zealand horticultural industry.

For more information visit

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