Amy Wu is the founder of From Farms to Incubators – an initiative to elevate women in agrifood.
This month marks a year since the Women in Agrifood Directory was launched. The directory first started in 2018 when Alison Kopf, the founder and CEO of Artemis Ag (now part of a newly-rebranded iUNU) posted an open Google Doc on LinkedIn with the names of 75 “Inspirational Women in Ag” following a Twitter thread she created earlier in the year. This was all a response to noticing too many male-dominated panels and speakers at agrifoodtech events.
In 2020, I worked alongside a number of women leaders in agtech, including Connie Bowen of AgLaunch, Pam Marrone of Marrone Bio Innovations, Louisa Burwood-Taylor of AgFunder, Danielle Gould of Food+Tech Connect, and Sarah Nolet of Tenacious Ventures to compile a larger, more sustainable and usable directory.
The vision was simple: the directory would serve as an accessible resource for those seeking to add diverse leaders in agrifood (including women, trans, and non-binary folx) to their teams as employees and partners; to their networks as peers; and to their events as a speaker. It is also my hope that it will enable women working in the field to connect with one another and encourage friendship, collaboration, and partnerships.
What’s the impact?
Creating this directory has been a labor of love for all involved; no one is making any direct profit from the list. It’s designed using Airtable and is intentionally designed to be open-source – we want people to interact with this directory. The entries are crowd-sourced to maximize inclusivity – folx can complete entries for themselves and/or their colleagues using a short survey. Over 1,200 surveys have been submitted to-date, and over 700 women are currently listed. We maintain the directory to the extent possible and filter out outdated responses.
Today, on International Women’s Day 2022, what’s changed? Has this work been impactful? Anecdotally, we’ve received thank-yous from event organizers and investors looking for executive-level talent. We’ve received encouraging words of gratitude from women in the industry. We’ve personally benefited from connections with women on this list that we otherwise wouldn’t have met. The directory has been featured in key ag publications including Urban Ag News and shared by many on social media platforms.
But some of us, disappointingly, have also received negative feedback after sharing the link as a resource for event organizers with mono-tone, mono-gender speaker line-ups.
We’re going to continue to maintain this directory, and we ask that our fellow members of the agrifoodtech community help us to do so.
To the many wonderful men in the agrifood industry – work with us to make all of our organizations stronger and more diverse. If you’re asked to be on an all-dude panel, send this directory to the event organizer as a resource. If you work with awesome women who deserve to be recognized as emerging or current leaders in our space, send them the survey or fill it out for them.
Women and non-binary folx on the list – update your entries when we email you, please! Finally, give us your feedback and criticism. This isn’t a full-time effort; we need the community’s help to refine it and make it better. We’re deeply appreciative of those who’ve constructively advised us against using exclusive terminology as relates to gender and pronouns – keep it coming, please.
Our vision is that the directory will someday grow to include every woman who works in agrifood all around the world, from farmers to technologists to policymakers to journalists. Our hope is that the need for extra, unpaid work to create opportunities for ourselves and other women disappears. That won’t happen until representation in agrifoodtech reflects that of society writ large.
A few lessons that we have learned from the directory. There is power in numbers, and it truly takes a community to keep the torch lit. To inspire the next generation of women to consider opportunities in agrifoodtech, the focus needs to be on creating tangible tools that they can use—more resources, more connection, and more bridges towards funding and collaborations. This is the true power of the directory, which has yet to be completely seen.
Today, in addition to celebrating your existing female colleagues, consider what you can do to increase the chance that your daughters will look back at this list and deem it to be absurdly unnecessary.
For More Information
To access the directory, click here.
If you’re missing from the list, OR if you’re already on this list, but would like to update your info, simply fill out this form and check the “Update” box. You will be contacted on a bi-annual basis to confirm/update your information.