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Women drivers

A few years ago a small group of feeder cattle from our neighbour’s pasture broke through the fence and ended up in my yard. When my neighbour arrived to take them home, he brought his saddle horse and a Collie dog. As he herded that group of yearlings away, I couldn’t help but be impressed with that Collie, and how he responded to commands as he did most of the work.

In contrast, the only words or commands my dogs responded to were “supper” and “cookie”.

Since moving to the city and getting a new pup after the last of our farm dogs passed away, finding a place to exercise her has led me to a great grassy park just before the threshold to runway 36 at the Winnipeg airport. This pup will never be like my former neighbour’s Collie either, when it comes to being impressively trained that is. She, too, responds to only a couple of words, “cookie” and “walk”.

During one of our walks through the airport park, I wondered if there was an app that lets me listen to air traffic control on my cell phone as the planes fly low over my head on final approach for landing.

As you might guess, of course there is. I use it now to eavesdrop on the airport, which makes a park visit a lot more interesting. I get to watch the planes come in and hear to their conversations with the tower. At the same time the pup gets to chase grasshoppers: a win-win situation.

While listening in on one of those radio conversations it occurred to me I was hearing the voices of female pilots quite often. A couple of decades ago when I was flying Cessnas, I rarely if ever heard one on the radio. Women aircrew members were called stewardesses. We didn’t need gender neutral job descriptions back then, it seems. Men flew the planes; women served drinks in the cabin.

When I look at my Twitter feed now and see some of the farm images that are posted, I often see women at the controls of combines or tractors pulling air seeders. A couple of generations ago women were, well, agricultural stewardesses, limited to bringing lunches to the field for the men who were operating the equipment.

They often still do, of course. Now, they just have to do that as well as drive the combine.

In the last couple of generations, the increasing participation of women in the nation’s overall paid workforce has been a major driving force in the growth of the economy, and it’s been a driver of the increased amount of household wealth Canadians—and, in fact, those in all western nations—enjoy.

The participation of women in the senior management ranks of ag equipment brands is now also noticeable; although, they remain by far the minority of faces around boardroom tables. But their presence is significant and growing.

This month, Leah Olson, the former president of AMC, the Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada, will take over as CEO of Saskatchewan-based SeedMaster. And another Saskatchewan brand has also had a woman at its head. Birgitta Ewerlöf enjoyed a brief stint as the CEO of Vaderstad’s Seed Hawk division.

Here at Glacier FarmMedia, women have a notable influence on what you read in Grainews. Leeann is our editor. Laura is our editorial director, and Lynda is our publisher.

Given that all three are directly above me in the chain of command here at the magazine, I guess—figuratively speaking—that kind of makes me the person pushing the beverage cart in the back of the Grainews plane.




About the author


Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.



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