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Brisbane campus hosts 'Women in Agri-tech' from across Australia

Published: 20 February 2019

Dr Amy Cosby with participants in the inaugural ‘Women in Agri-tech’ program
TOP: Dr Amy Cosby (in pink) with participants in the inaugural ‘Women in Agri-tech’ program. BELOW: Some of the intensive sessions.

CQUniversity Brisbane recently hosted 15 female teachers from regional, rural and remote areas of Australia who were chosen for the inaugural Women in Agri-tech program.

With support from leading researchers, educators and industry professionals, the teachers developed an agri-tech learning module aligned to the STEM and digital technologies component of the Australian Curriculum.

One of the participants commented that "the symposium was excellent".

"I loved every minute of it. Each presenter was so different, and all were engaging. While a lot of the content was a refresher for me, there were also a lot of new technologies I was impressed by.

"For the things I did know of already, each presenter gave tips of how to use them in schools, and where to get cheap or the best supplies for them."

Women in Agri-tech Project leader and researcher Dr Amy Cosby said participants learnt about the latest and emerging agri-tech and participated in a program run by River City Labs about the entrepreneurial process.

“Throughout the year, they will work with researchers and tech developers to put together and trial the learning module with their students.

“Teachers will also meet regularly via webinar to hear from leading female agri-tech professionals from across the world and cover other important topics to accelerate their leadership development.”

Dr Cosby, who is a CQUni Research Fellow in Agri-tech Education and Innovation, says the agricultural industry is changing with the ever-increasing use of technology demanding a workforce with a higher degree of digital literacy and STEM skills.

“More than this, a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship is necessary to see the full potential of digital technologies applied in agriculture.

“Currently, women comprise close to 50 per cent of the Australian workforce across all industries. However, in agriculture, females make up only 30 per cent of employees.

“Of primary concern is the lack of women in leadership positions in agricultural businesses, with only 14 per cent of females in management roles and representing only 18 per cent of people on boards.

“To change this trend, the next generation of young women need to be inspired and encouraged to consider a future in agri-tech.”

Dr Cosby says the project aims to create and foster a strong network of female teachers who will become leaders in digital literacy, STEM and entrepreneurship in regional, rural and remote areas.

“These agri-tech resources will, in turn, inspire girls in the classroom to realise the opportunities available to them.

“The second phase of the program will involve female students from across Australia partnering with their teachers to participate in a unique agri-tech accelerator competition to further develop their entrepreneurship skills.”

* The Women in Agri-Tech: Increasing participation in the future of farming project was funded as part of the Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship Grant round supported by the Federal Government Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. The project is also supported by QLD Dept. of Agriculture and Fisheries, NSW Dept. of Education, Cotton Australia, AgForce, River City Labs, NT Department of Primary Industries and Pasture.io.