Our Research

The AWDT was formed as a result of extensive qualitative research, carried out by Trust Founder Lindy Nelson between 2008 and 2009.  Its programmes are also based on this research which included:

1.  A study involving focus groups of rural women. 
2.  Interviews with rural women in business, governance and leadership roles.
3.  A review of existing leadership and governance opportunities for rural women. 

1. Lindy’s study set out to answer the question: “How can we assist rural women achieve success beyond the farm gate?”

The study involved three groups of rural women:

A. Those who had successfully made the transition to success in business, leadership and governance outside of the farm gate by using skills developed throughout their farming, family and community lives. Read more

B. Women who were contemplating making the change and wondering how this could be achieved and what support would be needed to do so – the What Now? Group.  Read more

C. Women who had started to make a transition and had used a change process workshop to do so. Read more

The study’s key findings included:

  • Rural women are and can be successful at the ‘What Now?’stage of their lives.
  • They can and do use the strengths and skills developed in their earlier rural roles by osmosis and action.
  • They are able to identify their skills, and the barriers to making the changes necessary to reinvent themselves.
  • They have insight into how they need to be supported to achieve their goals.
  • A programme that had all the ‘right components’ would be effective, but rural women want and need more support than this to help them succeed.

Research summary and conclusions

While this study answered the questions posed throughout, it  raised many new ones.  A definitive answer to the question ‘How can we assist rural women to succeed beyond the farm gate?’ was inconclusive.

2.  Lindy’s next step was to review existing leadership and governance development opportunities for rural women.

This extensive environmental scan looked at the current leadership and governance development opportunities. How available were they to rural women? Did they meet their needs?

When the results of this review were overlaid with the study results, and with international and national best practice for mentoring and increasing women’s participation and visibility, a clear picture of what rural women needed emerged. They needed development programmes which:

  • were designed to fit their lifestyle and which understood their needs.
  • were meaningful
  • were affordable
  • included pre-course preparation
  • included support during and after completion
  • involved mentoring support
  • involved shadowing opportunities
  • involved small numbers