Breaking glass ceilings in Ontario agriculture

Breaking glass ceilings in Ontario agriculture
Jul 22, 2021

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Maranda Klaver is proud to see more women working in the ag sector

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Maranda Klaver noticed something unique while waiting in line to unload at her local co-op.

“I looked ahead of me and there was a girl I went to school with, there was another girl I see there every year hauling loads (of grain), a few more girls there and one more pulling into the yard. I thought it was pretty awesome,” she told Farms.com.

The 23-year-old farmer from Seaforth, Ont. is the second youngest of five sisters. The other Klaver girls are Samantha (31), Veronika (28), Danika (26) and Natasha (21).

Klaver wants to help break any glass ceilings that may be in place for women in the ag sector.

She wants women and young girls to feel welcome in the industry because she can remember as young girl hearing people talk about women in farming as if they were a novelty.

“When I was in elementary school, I’d be the only girl talking about farming and almost be singled out as a weird kid because I liked things boys did,” she said. “I’ve had people ask me because I have four sisters if my parents were trying for a boy. I’ve had a lot of people tell me ‘no’ because I’m a woman. It’s really annoying that just because I go to a different bathroom that somehow makes me unqualified or uncapable of doing certain jobs.”

Klaver hopes to use her platform as Huron County Queen of the Furrow to help create welcoming environments for young women and girls interested in agriculture.

Maranda Klaver

“I want to encourage them to follow their dreams if working in ag or owning a farm is what they want to do,” she said. “I’m all about smashing those stereotypes and we can do anything the boys can.”

Multiple women are also in government and board roles across the country.

In Ontario, for example, Lisa Thompson is the new minister of agriculture and Peggy Brekveld is president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

Mary Robinson is president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and Marie-Claude Bibeau is the federal minister of agriculture.

In British Columbia, Lana Popham is the province’s agriculture minister.

And in Alberta, Tara Sayer is chair of Alberta Barley and Melanie Wowk is chair of Alberta Beef Producers.

Having women as the faces of organizations or government departments will help others, Klaver said.

“I was very excited when I saw Thompson become the new (Ontario) ag minister,” she said. “She’s very much for the empowerment of women and to see other women in those kinds of positions is a step in the right direction.”

Women and young girls looking to connect with others in the ag sector can try contacting the Ag Women’s Network or searching the hashtag #WomenInAg on social media, Klaver added.

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