Female leaders on the rise in agriculture

More women are taking on leadership roles in agriculture, according to new data from the National Farmers Federation.

Research released by the federation on Tuesday shows the number of women in leadership positions had climbed across some of its member organisations by almost 40 per cent in the past six years.

"We're feeling really positive from the data that we collected," said NFF president Fiona Simson.

"Agriculture is an incredibly diverse industry, and we absolutely need as much diversity as we can get.''

The data was collated from up to 35 companies that the federation teamed up with and found a growing number of women in management roles across a range of companies, from advocacy bodies to research and development corporations.

Ms Simson said agriculture has previously been one of the worst performers for diversity, with 2018 figures showing just 2.3 per cent of female CEOs across the industry, but she said that is changing.

"Yes we've got a long way to go, but it shows that we can lead the way in becoming a diverse industry and an industry where overwhelmingly the women that are out there in rural and regional Australia are starting to be recognised in leadership ranks," she told AAP.

The data was released during a graduation ceremony in Canberra on Tuesday for 12 women who had been selected for a diversity in agriculture leadership program.

Skye Ward, who runs a merino operation with her family at Bungendore in NSW, was one of the graduates.

"It's just been the most incredible opportunity to meet so many amazing women who, like me, are also passionate about agriculture," Ms Ward told AAP.

She said for the first time in a 20-year career she had been given a mentor thanks to the program, which had given her the confidence to start a new communications business.

"Agriculture has historically been a male-dominated business,'' Ms Ward said.

"That stereotype is certainly shifting, and I've seen that shift significantly in the 20 years I've been involved in the sector.

"I think we're just bringing a diversity of thought and a diversity of experience."

The NFF has aimed to double the ranks of its female leaders by 2030, a goal it set in 2018 when only 18 per cent of senior managers were women and only two per cent of women were chief executives.

Ms Simson, whose term expires in 2023, said it is important that whoever takes her place should be the best person for the job, but it is vital there is a strong group of female candidates.

"I hope not to be the last female (president), but it's important to have females right through the organisation," she said.

When Ms Simson was elected as the first female president of the federation in 2016, she was the only female on the seven-person board. Now there are four.