Irish Country Living editor Mairead Lavery hosted the session and was joined by a panel of women who are leading the way in the agriculture industry.

Among the panellists and first to share her experience is Briege Corkery, a dairy farmer and 16-time all-Ireland winner.

Briege and her husband share-milk on a 500-cow farm and they are trying to build their own stock, with 250 cows at the moment. As one of 10 children, she says the family farm was never going to go to her.

Briege thinks it’s important for women in the industry to be visible and she was “amazed” at the number of women at her first farm walk.

“Seeing other women who are farming, at farm walks and at discussion groups is really important for moral support.”

On top of all of other achievements and skills, Briege has another string to her bow – she’s also trained as a stonemason.

The active role Briege plays on the farm is something Ann Derwin really encourages.

Ann is the assistant secretary general in the Department of Agriculture and the first women to ever have the job.

“Women are brilliant at spotting opportunities and women do play a key role in decision-making on the farm,” says Ann.

Ann first joined the Department of Agriculture in the 1980s and says regardless of where you start in the Department, it’s a stepping stone.”

Having lifted the embargo in place since 2009, the Department is now recruiting for 200 roles.

Ann also adds that because of the important roles women have on farms, “it’s hard to understand why they don’t have joint ownership”.

At the minute in Ireland, women only own 2.2% of farms, but Ann thinks for long-term viability, “joint ownership is key”.

This point was reiterated by panellist Anna Marie McHugh, who added that so many “women have motivated enterprises on farms”.

Anna Marie works with the National Ploughing Championships and is the secretary of the World Ploughing Organisation.

But it was a job Anna Marie admits she didn’t really want or expect to get, adding that “the best interview you do is one for the jobs you don’t want”.

She also shared her experiences of being a woman in the working world and the challenges that women face.

“I could sense people waiting for me to fall – you really do have to go that extra mile. When you’re at the table, you have to perform equally if not better than the men at the table,” she said.

Anna Marie referred to the route Briege took to get into farming, saying: “Share-milking can provide an opportunity for young women who maybe won’t get the family farm. It shows that yes, they still can go into that career despite that.”

If you’re looking for a job, pick up a copy of the Irish Farmers Journal this Thursday. There were 1,120 jobs on offer at the Irish Farmers Journal and open eir Agri Careers Fair last week. The jobs wall on display at the event is replicated over seven pages in this week’s Irish Country Living supplement.

Not all of these roles have been filled yet so make sure you get in touch with employers straight away: contact details are included in the jobs wall for each.

Read more

Department of Agriculture filling 200 positions this year

Full coverage: Agri Careers