Female members of staff at Johnsons of Whixley have offered their own insight into the changing roles of women in horticulture, and what the future may hold. The perspectives have been gathered to mark International Women’s Day (8 March), which campaigns to ‘press forward’ and progress gender parity. The Day aims to unite and motivate friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.
Roughly 25% of the Johnsons workforce is female, and many of those have seen the industry change for women during their time with the business.
Vicky Newell is responsible for key customer accounts in the North East, North West and Scotland, and has worked for the business for more than ten years.
“I have seen more women working within the office environment since I started working at Johnsons of Whixley 11 years ago,” said Vicky. “But I think the industry is missing a trick by not having more women directors or managers.
“We have different opinions, but surely a variety of ideas is how we will compete in the challenging times the industry is seeing at the moment?”
Vicky’s colleague, Claire Horner, is Johnsons’ wholesale plant centre sales and operations supervisor, and has worked for the business for 19 years.
“I have not encountered any negative stereotypes about women in the workplace during my time working in the horticultural industry. When I first joined the business, I was the only woman on the Ryther site, working alongside eight men – but I was never given a task based on my gender, only on my ability.
“The trend I have noticed the most for women in horticulture is the increase in women in prominent roles. There are now more women who run their own nursery or have their own business, and there are more female designers now, of whom many are award winners.
“The horticultural industry has lots to offer women,” Claire added, “whether they want to nurture plants, show their artistic flare, educate others or simply work with nature and feel the soil under their fingernails. I think young women need to be made aware of the potential career opportunities available to them – that you can be a successful woman, run a business and have great opportunities to flourish.
“I also think the horticulture industry needs to raise its profile, so it is not just seen as a hobby for women who like gardening; it should be seen as a positive career choice.”
Sandra Grayson, who is Johnsons’ payroll and tax administrator, has worked for Johnsons for 17 years.
“The horticultural industry is still male-dominated but there are more women coming into the industry in different sectors, such as business, science, technology and engineering,” she said.
“I would like to see more women in senior management roles in the industry and I think in the future more key positions will be taken up by women.”
Johnsons of Whixley is a family-run plant nursery first established in 1921, and today recognised as one of Europe’s largest commercial nursery businesses.