How do rural women define their success?

Executive Summary

Recognition among our rural women and their success is a topic I don’t think is acknowledged or emphasised enough. Being able to confidently believe and recognise you make an impactful contribution to meet your values, and have a definition of your success while being content with your moral compass is essential.

The aim of this project was to talk to a cross-section of rural women and then make an informed decision about the definition of their success, and how they believe it impacts over their lives and communities.

For this study I interviewed 11 rural women in a semi-structured format as well as recording these conversations and then completing a thematic analysis on the results. Then along with reading plenty of books and articles I have built on these themes to cover the key take-home points.

The importance and relevance of defining these characteristic become the main points to understanding and finding the women’s definition of success:

Identifying success and whether it is measurable

Support systems

Health and wellbeing

Challenges and adversity

Primary industry perceptions and pressures

Following on from these points I then created an understanding and gave clarity to these themes. Having women identifying that their success is a way of how you make others feel and their own needs being met, and that it is measured in reaching a goal or making an achievement.

Having the right support systems around to be able to grow and prosper while finding your purpose has proven central to the women interviewed. Creating a life where health and wellbeing needs are being met and can you identify where change can occur also emerged as a central theme.

It was recognised that facing challenges and adversity and having the resilience to carry on forwards when these may occur was key to success for many interviewees. And finally, having an understanding of the perception of others on what it is you do and how that represents you, while comprehending the effects this may have on our wider industry and the markets that it involves also impacts on women’s understanding of success.

The following are the key observations and recommendations I have discovered during this research:

A need to recognise that rural women’s success comes in different ways;

Measuring success and taking the time to recognise and reward during this process is a constructive exercise;

Having support systems in place to streamline the objectives you want to achieve is essential;

The importance of recognising when you need to address your wellbeing and implement strategies to do this.

Being able to make good clear decisions to know when things align with you values and morals is a clear priority for successful rural women.

Being able to rise above others perceptions and keep focussed on your realities is an important message for rural women.

Joining in with liked-minded groups, such as Rural Women NZ or the Dairy Women’s Network, can provide further opportunities and support.

Resolutions to these themes were then identified in the conclusion and key characteristics of success were identified among these women.

Having the confidence to create and lead change is a defining part of understanding success. Knowing your place within your role, your community, and the industry, and having a plan to implement clear pathways to affect others perceptions is essential. It is clear that believing in the cause and knowing that you can always create and work towards positive change is a key driver for many rural women. I believe these are the key take home points to rural women defining their success.

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