Upcoming Ceres event will examine the issue of gender balance in the Irish agri-food industry


On Tuesday 25th February 2020, Ceres, the women in agribusiness network, will host a breakfast event in the Killashee Hotel, Naas called ‘Striking the Gender Balance in Irish Agri-food.’ 

The event will feature an interactive panel discussion with John Jordan, CEO, Ornua, Sinéad McPhillips, Assistant Secretary General, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine andDr. Monica Gorman, Lecturer in agricultural extension and innovation in UCD’s School of Agriculture and Food Science.

The discussion, chaired by agri-food analyst and journalist, Eoin Lowry, will explore the barriers to, and opportunities for, achieving gender balance in the Irish agri-food industry. John Jordan will share his thoughts on the business case for gender balance and his experience in developing a Diversity and Inclusion Strategy for Ornua. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s lead on the National Women and Girl’s strategy, Sinéad McPhillips, will offer a perspective on how decision making needs to change at every level in order to change society. Dr. Monica Gorman will discuss how the next generation of graduates entering the agri-food sector will have raised expectations for greater diversity and equality in their careers and family care roles.

Late last year, Roberta McDonald, Sustainable Solutions Lead with Devenishcommenced the role of Chair of the Ceres Network. Ceres, the women in agri-business leadership network, was founded to develop and promote leadership and diverse thinking within the industry. Through the delivery of a range of dynamic, engaging and thought-provoking events, the network aims to provide a platform for knowledge sharing, collaboration and peer support.  Speaking about the upcoming event, Roberta said: “We are delighted to be bringing together a strong panel of industry experts to discuss and share their experiences of the benefits of gender balance for the greater good of the Irish agri-food industry. Our event offers dynamic networking and knowledge sharing opportunities to empower people to take their own steps towards ‘Striking the Balance’ and we would encourage anyone working within the industry to attend.”

Prior to her current role in Devenish, Roberta created the Farm Profitability Programme and Sustainability Framework at Aurivo where she worked for five years. Roberta was awarded a Nuffield scholarship in 2016 where she studied the topic ‘Innovative Disruption of Farmer Development Programmes’. She is a Board member of Nuffield Ireland, founding member of the Ceres Network and Council member of the Agricultural Science Association. She has an honours degree in Animal Science (2010) from UCD, she completed a PhD on decision-making and behaviour change amongst New Entrant dairy farmers with UCD and Teagasc Moorepark.