WOMEN have always been a part of crofting. Old photographs of women carrying peat, milking cows or doing the tattie harvest show just some examples of how they were involved.

As men were often working away, the majority of the crofting tasks fell to women. Many tell the stories of what the women did, their responsibilities, their achievements. But they are usually passed on by word of mouth, quietly spoken about, invisible.

This has changed in more recent years. Women in crofting are more visible now and are being acknowledged. Figures published by the Crofting Commission last month showed there were 510 new entrants to crofting in 2022-23, and 45% of new entrants were women. But there have been – and are – issues.

The Scottish Government has done a lot of work on the issues faced by women in agriculture, including crofting. It has been great that it took some of the issues raised and directed funding to address those needs. But while this has broadened the confidence and qualifications of women within agriculture, there are still aspects that would be good to address.

READ MORE: Assa Samake-Roman - Battle for women's bodily autonomy goes on despite France victory

Society seems to still expect me to hold the fort at home. But it is also pushing for me to be seen at board level, to give a voice to women. I am for some reason seen as the one who either has a lot of flexible time to give to society or they think: “Well, if she can juggle all the other tasks, what effect will it have if she joins a board?”

The National: Beth Rose is a crofterBeth Rose is a crofter

But chat to a lot of women and they are the cooks, the cleaners, the childcarers. Not in every situation – and men are participating in this a lot more – but history and tradition still cling on. While the questions are being asked about gender equality in agriculture and crofting, no-one seems to ask if the other tasks are being shared.

While I know plenty of women who juggle and balance a host of crofting responsibilities, society has its expectations.

While opening a door to new adventures is great – particularly within agriculture and crofting – is there anything holding us back from even getting to the door? The Grass Ceiling project is currently looking into this. It is a three-year European project aiming to empower rural women and increase the number of socio-ecological innovations led by women in agriculture. Being a part of the Scottish Living Lab of the Grass Ceiling has been interesting in identifying issues.

READ MORE: Women 'bearing the burden' of the cost of living crisis, campaigners warn

The project actively supports women to find out about the specifics of female-led innovations in rural communities, including idea development and re-imagining techniques within the innovation process, network learning, accessing relevant knowledge and training and finance.

The Grass Ceiling is just one way that the role of women in crofting is being heard, acknowledged, and influencing the future. But the traditional stereotypical image of crofting by those outwith crofting needs addressed. Media outlets are just one way that those stereotypes are woven into our society.Raising awareness can help get people talking. The rise of women being listed on legal documents is positive. Acknowledging women’s achievements needs to be raised. And gender equality still needs to be taken forward.

READ MORE: Palestinian women remain defiantly strong in the face of oppression and starvation

Crofting, generally, is an enigma to the masses, despised by some, and a dream to others. A common misconception is an image of a house, rather than land under certain tenure.

That image often misses out the midges, the back-breaking work, the attempt to be as self-sufficient as possible regardless of what nature flings at us.

The Making Of The Crofting Community by James Hunter is a great source of finding out about the history of crofting. Historically, it has always been “on the side” – access to poor, infertile land ensured crofters couldn’t live off the land and had to seek work elsewhere. Little has changed.