It took a trip to the Royal Easter Show and a few episodes of McLeod’s Daughters to convince Danielle Fordham to pursue a career in agriculture.
Now the city girl turned farm lover has reaped the rewards by winning the 2017 Women’s Network Hunter scholarship for women in non traditional trades.
Gender equity in the workforce typically focuses on increasing participation in the professions, on boards and in politics.
Ms Fordham started a Certificate IV and Diploma in Agriculture at Tocal College last year. She left life an urban lifestyle to move out to the college as a residential student and hasn’t looked back.
But it hasn’t been a smooth ride for Ms Fordham. She has paid her way through her courses by working three jobs on top of study.
“As amazing as it is, there had been a financial burden,” she said.
Ms Fordham has also had to grapple with the challenges of working in a field that is traditionally dominated by men.
“I have doubted myself many times,” she said.
“I’ve always grown up thinking men have hard jobs and women have more supportive jobs.
“There’s that sense that women aren’t strong enough.
“But just because I’m a woman that doesn’t mean I can’t do the things men can do.”
She has excelled as well. Ms Fordham was dux of the college last year.
Ms Fordham was encouraged to apply for the scholarship by one of her teachers and was very excited when she was announced as the recipient.
Women’s Network Hunter has presented the annual award since 2007.
Womens Network Hunter vice president Glenda Briggs said encouraging women to enter male-dominated, or non-traditional, trades was critical for enhancing women's employment choices and eliminating gender-based wage inequality.
“Trades that involve manual dirty or outdoors work, or the use of tools and technology, are traditionally male dominated,” she said.
“They are also better paid, more varied and more highly valued than female dominated trades.”
Ms Briggs said women made up 13 percent of all trade apprentices, the majority of which were in fields such as hairdressing and catering.
Tocal is leading the way in the agriculture industry. The percentage of women studying agriculture at the college has been 50 or more for several years.