International Women’s Day – India Langley, LettUs Grow
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we have been speaking to some of our female members about the opportunities and barriers present in STEM and land based careers.
India Langley – Communications Lead, LettUs Grow Ltd.
How did you come to be working in the agricultural sector?
I didn’t study agriculture or even science but when I left university I knew I wanted to be working in a sector that could make a real impact. I started volunteering in community growing spaces and using my experience in schools to do educational outreach around sustainable food and farming. In 2015, I landed a job doing communications for an organic CSA project called The Community Farm and it all snowballed from there. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to have my work printed in national newspapers and in the international press, helped to deliver high-impact educational campaigns like Take a Bite Out of Climate Change, and worked with some incredible entrepreneurs, technologists & plant scientists in the space.
What is your current role and what made you choose it?
I head up the Communications and Marketing department at LettUs Grow. I chose the company because I feel that vertical farming addresses some really major issues in our food system and helps bridge that gap between high-intensity & low-impact production. I’ve been lucky enough to grow with the company. I was the tenth team member (including the three founders) and the company has scaled so much in the two and a half years I’ve been there. It’s been an amazing thing to be a part of.
What do you find particularly rewarding about working in the sector?
My absolute favourite thing is public outreach. Showing someone who has little experience of farming what’s going on is an amazing feeling. It’s such an interesting and engaging topic you can just see people light-up. Probably my biggest highlight was speaking to a young woman who came back an hour later saying that our talk helped her choose her A-levels, believe in herself and decide that she wanted to work in food and farming too. My heart just melted!
In your opinion, are there any barriers to women entering the agricultural sector? If so, what are they and how do you feel you have overcome them?
A lot of agriculture and agritech is STEM-based so a big barrier to entry is that young women are being put off STEM subjects and careers in STEM. And honestly, I was one of them. The sciences were my strongest subjects in school and the only subjects that I got straight As in. I lost confidence in my abilities around 16 and ended up taking Literature at university instead. I’ve spent my career working my way back to science through science communication and this September I will be starting an MSc!
What advice would you give to women looking to start a career in the sector?
Oh heck, this is going to sound very cheesy but please, please, please believe in your capabilities and know you don’t need to have a STEM background to make real waves in the space. Your unique experience is valuable. I think not having a science degree might have made me a more empathetic science communicator! Finally, once you’re in the sector, use your platform to be visible, inspire & help pull other women up – we’re all in this together.
If you’d like to find to more about LettUs Grow, you can follow them on Twitter.