At just three-years-old, Sylvie Fulwood already decided she couldn’t be a farmer.
Why? She was a girl.
Her father Ty Fulwood came home from working on their 5400-hectare mixed broad acre farming property in Meckering, 130 kilometres west of Perth. While unpacking his work bag, he asked his eldest daughter if she would have clothes like his one day, to his surprise, she responded with, “I can’t be a farmer Daddy, because I’m a girl.”
“He was so shocked that she’d already identified and attached a gender role to something, and she was only three. That really concerned him because we haven’t actively said farming is for boys,” Sylvie’s mother, Em Fulwood said.
But instead of trying to sway her perceived judgement on his own, he called on women in agriculture to help him do it.
Ty took to Twitter and wrote, “So this morning my eldest daughter told me she wasn’t going to be a farmer because she was a girl not a boy. Are there any farming women who could help me convince Sylvie that she can be a girl and a farmer? Perhaps with a short vid I could show her?”
The response was phenomenal.
Videos and messages from women working the land all over the world, started flowing in. The post attracted more than 200 comments and 197 retweets, among the supporters, National Farmers Federation Presidents, Fiona Simpson.
"There are girl farmers and farming leaders who are girls right across the world, so when you grow up, you can be whatever you want to be and if you're a farmer I'll bet you'll be a fantastic one,” Ms Simson wrote.
While the support has been great, the impact on the three-year-old has proven to be greater.
Sylvie has a new interest in joining her father working on the property. For a couple of hours each day, she sits on the tractor.
“The other day she was out with Ty and when they came back in, he said she’d asked him about 4000 questions, so she is really loving it,” Mrs Fulwood said.
Em and Ty don’t want to influence what their daughters chose to do when they grow older, but they say it’s nice to know they have the option to do what they like.
“It’s very nice to see that if Sylvie wants to be a farmer, then that’s normal and that’s totally ok and she can do that. It made me realise how significant the Women in Ag movement is,” Mrs Fulwood said.
While Sylvie, might be a little too young to make any major career decisions yet, for now she’s happy to be out working with dad.
The ‘Sylvie’ shirt will hopefully inspire other young girls who are thinking about following a path into the agriculture industry and challenge assumptions and unspoken beliefs about specific roles.