Call to action for all women

BY KERRY ANDERSON

As I watch the next generation of females in our family grow I have been reflecting on how much has changed since I grew up in a male dominated world and equally, how much still hasn’t.  Sadly we need to keep spelling it out. 

Here is my call to action for all women.

Don’t stereo type 

Encourage your daughters and grand-daughters to be brave, be creative, to explore, to dream and to question. 

Pull those barbie dolls apart and see how they’re made.  Better still get out in the workshop and tinker with those machines.  

Talk up the arts plus science and technology when it comes to career paths. Skills are for everyone to practice and learn according to their interest, not their gender. 

Keep an open mind 

With 70% of future jobs not yet invented, I for one don’t want to be a career adviser. 

What has happened in the past is not necessarily the way of the future with modern technology.  Just look at the mobile phone as an example. Who would have thought that it would also become a camera, calculator, GPS and essentially a mini computer? 

What surprised me most in a 2013 survey of 1,000 secondary school students in rural Victoria was the lack of understanding of how technology is changing geographic barriers. 

Yes we still want to encourage young people to travel and experience the city as a student but we also need to understand that technology is opening up new careers in rural areas as well.

Encourage entrepreneurs  

With youth unemployment a worldwide issue, why aren’t we flagging self-employment as an option? 

Schools need to be inviting business leaders into the class room to share their stories.  Teachers need to embrace technology to better engage students in business studies. 

Most important of all - Get over this tall poppy syndrome!  Accept the failures as part of the learning process and celebrate the successes.  Business is good for us all. We need business to grow and prosper or how can we support the wonderful education, health and welfare services that we currently enjoy?

While there is no doubt in my mind that future generations are going to be facing a tougher economy, adversity has also proven to be a great breeding ground for entrepreneurs.

Rural women are great problem solvers and great disruptors because we have to be. With so many new technologies available to us, there is no limit to what we can achieve. 

As I always say:  If you can't spell Entrepreneur then be one and hire someone that can!

Two little girls delighted to be helping their self employed mother deliver parcels from  Fair Dinkum Dog Coats  to the post office.

Two little girls delighted to be helping their self employed mother deliver parcels from Fair Dinkum Dog Coats to the post office.


KERRY ANDERSON:  A businesswoman, philanthropist and community advocate from Central Victoria, Kerry Anderson is passionate about rural and regional Australia.  She works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace opportunities.

MORE about Kerry Anderson

READ Kerry's full presentation paper on this topic for the 2015 International Rural Women's Conference.

Opening Doors

BY KERRY ANDERSON

At the recent Food & Fibre Matters Conference held in Canberra it emerged that there are two major impediments when it comes to educating the wider community about the importance of primary industries here in Australia.

The first is a negative perception in general, and the second is a huge disconnect between schools and industry.

In my last blog DESTROYING MYTHS I wrote about the need to destroy the misleading myths that dominate the primary industries image in the media and where better to start than with the next generation in the school system.  Not just secondary but also primary school age is considered essential.

When you think about it, agriculture is also perfect to underpin all of the STEM learning opportunities that the Australian Government is currently promoting and we all know that hands-on, real-life learning opportunities have far better outcomes.

Opening our business doors and farm gates to educators and students to break down these myths and promote understanding is crucial.

In the United Kingdom one of the options to receive a farm subsidy is to help deliver on farm education to schools.

In Scotland, and here in Australia, many producers concerned about the future willingly cooperate with their local schools for farm visits and work experience providing the schools give their support on the paperwork side.

Wambiana Station, a 50,000 acre working cattle station 70 kilometres south of Charters Towers in Queensland, has been hosting farm stays for school, university and industry groups for 24 years.

Michelle Lyons at the Food & Fibre Matters conference sharing the benefits of opening the farm gates to students.

Michelle Lyons at the Food & Fibre Matters conference sharing the benefits of opening the farm gates to students.

“As producers it is our responsibility to explain good animal husbandry and not sugar coat it,” explains third generation farmer, Michelle Lyons.  “We put a human face to farming and help them understand why we need to vaccinate, castrate and brand our animals.”

She believes that a multi-sensory approach of absorbing and participating in farm life engages the interest of students.

Even sceptical zoology students coming to a cattle station to study biodiversity have been pleasantly surprised.  “Under the right conditions cattle and bio-diversity can co-exist,” smiles Michelle. 

Wow.  There goes another myth!

With my rural entrepreneur hat on I was invited to present a business and education perspective at the Food & Fibre Matters Conference and was pleasantly surprised to find such similar thinking over the two days of the conference.

In my 5 WAYS TO IMPROVE STUDENT ENGAGEMENT IN RURAL CAREERS presentation I spoke about a group of Wimmera farmers leading the way in establishing the Broader Horizons Program with St Arnaud Secondary College taking groups of students on a six week program to explore careers in agribusiness.

A significant outcome of this one day a week program was the realisation of students that higher learning is required to work in agriculture.

“I thought work on a farm would be easy but it’s not. Not just rock up and get a job, more to it. I need to focus,” reflected one student who participated in the Broader Horizons Program.

After all these conversations around the region and at the conference it is clear to me that business and primary industries have got exactly the same challenges and opportunities.  So, together let’s start destroying those myths and opening those doors!

For more information about the PIEFA Food & Fibre Matters conference FOLLOW THIS LINK

For free business resources for the classroom FOLLOW THIS LINK 

KERRY ANDERSON:  A businesswoman, philanthropist and community advocate from Central Victoria, Kerry Anderson is passionate about rural and regional Australia.  She works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace opportunities.

www.kerryanderson.com.au

How can we encourage a culture of entrepreneurism?

BY KERRY ANDERSON

Entrepreneurism is hard to say and even harder to spell but absolutely essential for our future. 

Just ask the world leaders whose speeches are peppered with this difficult word.  Next week Moscow is host to an international conference for Global Entrepreneurs funded by the Kauffman Foundation in the United States.  Trust me, entrepreneurism is important!

So what can we do as individuals to encourage a culture of entrepreneurism in Australia?

Having just had this discussion with a group of business and professional women in Swan Hill last night, my thoughts are running rampant on this subject and it starts by being aware of some of the psychological barriers.

First, we have to get over this “tall poppy” syndrome so prevalent in Australia.  While we adore an underdog it is a very different playing field when someone is successful in business.  Suddenly they become “greedy” and “publicity seeking.” 

When I asked a successful businessman once what his most significant contribution to the community was (already knowing that he was a very community minded person), much to my surprise at the time he replied: “I provide jobs for people that live in this community.”

Fear of failure is another barrier that we need to overcome. 

Repeat after me:  It’s ok to make mistakes!  Just read the biography of any famous inventor - every failure is a step closer to success – and yet we put down those in our community that falter.

My daughter was very distressed when our retail business that she had just started managing went unexpectedly into overdraft one month.  When I asked she knew exactly why. She’d purchased too much stock post-Christmas not realising this is when sales naturally decrease.  It cost us a bit of bank interest but what a valuable lesson.  It never happened again and she is now the first one to say “it’s ok to make mistakes.”

Perceptions can be both powerful and wrong.  Over 70% of secondary school students recently surveyed as part of the Operation Next Gen project believe that they need to leave their home town to pursue their chosen career path.  Sadly their parents are of a similar opinion.

Let’s set the record straight and open up minds to new possibilities. 

In this day and age of technology a whole range of new career opportunities are possible in a rural area if you are willing to create your own income. Family farms are now hosting a myriad of diverse business enterprises both agricultural and non-agricultural related.  Stores in town centres are changing purpose and old industries are being replaced by new.

We just have to remind ourselves to look at existing landscapes with fresh eyes.

KERRY ANDERSON:  A businesswoman, philanthropist and community advocate from Central Victoria, Kerry Anderson is passionate about rural and regional Australia.  She works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace opportunities.

www.kerryanderson.com.au