Dr. Sue Peoples


Dr. Sue Peoples is a social scientist advocating farm women to promote green strategies and technologies for sustainable on-farm food production systems.

She has continuously strived to make a difference to people’s lives. After completing a MA at the University of Auckland, she embarked on a teaching career in Auckland, followed by completing a PhD in Human Geography, where she studied the lives of New Zealand’s farm women.


Sue strongly believes that women can be the key drivers of the adoption and implementation of environmentally responsible farm practices.

Women make up forty-three percent of the world’s farmers but only 10-20% own the land they farm. It is therefore much harder for women to gain access to the resources and practices needed to farm effectively. The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) suggests that by advocating the role of women farmers, they could increase global agricultural output by 4%, thereby reducing the number of undernourished people by at least 17%.

As a Senior Scientist of Rural Sociology working for AgResearch in New Zealand, Sue has explored how women’s and men’s attitudes and behaviours differ towards the environment. She is strongly promoting the participation of New Zealand’s farm women as the potential key to the country’s environmental future in the face of unprecedented challenges such as climate change.

Research findings underline how women are more empathetic towards the environment, largely because they have been responsible for collecting their family’s food since the beginning of human civilisation. Women are more likely to have less of a productivist focus, and be prepared to explore sustainable farming systems, rather than just maximising economic outputs at an environmental cost.

Sue’s presentations include the European Society for Rural Sociology in Finland and Crete, the XVII World Sociology Congress, Agri-Foods Research Network Conferences in New Zealand and Australia, the Association for Women in Science Conference in New Zealand, and the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists Conference.

Sue is a little unconventional, mixing a range of totally unrelated, eclectic activities into her life. She rides a 900cc motorbike, plays the piano, jumps out of planes, designs newspaper covers, draws cartoons, loves reading, tends to her ever-expanding rose garden, loves watching/playing sport, likes to travel, and cuddles her cats to bits. Preferring to be an enigma rather than predictable, Sue sees herself as ‘Just Sue’ living by no-other label.

AgResearch is one of New Zealand’s leading agricultural research institutions. Their purpose is to help bring to fruition a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable rural New Zealand.

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