CQUni researcher recognised among 'outstanding' female agriculture leaders

Published:08 May 2018

CQUniversity's senior research officer in agri-tech education and innovation, Dr Amy Cosby.

A CQUni agri-tech researcher who is helping school students become 'tech-savvy' agents of change has been recognised among eight of Australia's outstanding female agriculture leaders.

Dr Amy Cosby says she is excited to have been selected to grow her leadership ability through the Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program, an initiative of the National Farmers' Federation (NFF).

The program aims to see more women join the senior executive and board-level ranks of Australian agribusinesses and farm-representative bodies.

Leading the emerging GPS Cows project, Dr Cosby says the opportunity will be valuable to her work at CQUniversity.

“The Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program fosters one-on-one mentoring with some of the most accomplished agriculturalists," she says.

"This creates amazing opportunities for networking and developing strong connections, both for me personally and for CQUni, with benefits reaching education, research groups and the community through engagement.”

While based in Victoria, Dr Cosby is spending this week representing CQUni at the Beef Australia expo in Rockhampton.

She has also led roll out of the GPS Cows project beyond the original nine schools in the pilot group, to encourage ag-friendly schools across Australia to track their livestock.

Dr Cosby's research aims to demonstrate that exposing young people to agri-tech from an early age will increase the adoption of technology across the agricultural supply chain. When inspired young people enter the workforce, they will be confident and skilled in the use of agri-tech.

She works with educators, researchers and industry professionals to develop innovative programs to increase the skills and knowledge of teachers and students in the latest agri-tech tools and systems.

Dr Cosby has developed and implemented a range of curriculum-aligned agri-tech learning modules for university, VET and high school students.  These modules aim to showcase the scientific and digital skills required in the agricultural industry to attract and build the capacity of the next generation workforce.

The current and first female President of the NFF, Fiona Simson said the number and calibre of the diversity program applicants confirmed what she had always known.

“Agriculture has a wealth of untapped leadership talents in its female participants," Ms Simson said.

“I was blown away by the diversity of the qualifications and experiences of applicants and their approach to what agriculture needs in terms of leadership into the future.”

The inaugural cohort of the Diversity in Ag Leadership Program hail from regional and urban bases with experiences and skills in disciplines spanning farm management, education, science, natural resource management, exporting, media and finance.

The group will travel to Canberra on 31 May for an introductory workshop where they will be matched with their mentor and attend a luncheon at Parliament House. Keynote speakers at the luncheon will be Agriculture and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud and former Northern Territory Cattleman’s Association CEO Tracey Hayes.

The Program is supported by partners from government, leading Australian agribusinesses and farm representative bodies including: Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, AgriFutures, Australian Agricultural Company, Consolidated Pastoral Company, Cotton Australia, NSW Farmers, Monsanto, Rural Bank, and Rimfire Resources Syngenta.

Program partners have committed to making meaningful change towards achieving increased gender diversity within their organisations.

“Currently, only 2.3 per cent of chief executive officers in Australian agribusinesses are female, compared with an average of 17 per cent across other industries,” Ms Simson said.

“In leadership roles, only 13 per cent of representatives are women, compared with an average of 28 per cent in non-ag related industries.

“In its inaugural year, the NFF and our partners, seek to make progress towards changing this,” Ms Simson said.

"I very much look forward to meeting and getting to know our impressive inaugural mentor program cohort in Canberra on 31 May and together fostering increased gender diversity within our industry."