By Primrose Beaton, head of cattle sales at Lawrie and Symington, Lanark

It was 1986 and I’d just landed my first job in a live auction mart. Three young lads and I were to become trainee auctioneers – but being female created additional obstacles.

The first was my employer, who, on my first day, told me he’d only taken me on to satisfy 'the diversity and equal rights people' and that I would 'never be an auctioneer.'

I promptly replied; “My Daddy says I can be anything I want to be if I put my mind to it.” And as if to prove the point, my Dad proudly bought the first thing I ever sold at a small tools sale a few months later.

But my employer’s attitude had lit a fire inside me. I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me what I could and couldn’t do because I was female.

I got stuck in to the junior jobs with the other trainees – everything from weighing cattle to changing the towels in the gents’ toilets.

But rather than see the path they could have been blazing, my employers back then never took me seriously. I think they thought I would get married and that would be the end of it.

Consequently, I had to fight to get the same level of training as the boys, and was put forward for the exam an entire year after they were – not because I couldn’t do it, but because my employer didn't believe I could.

To deal with this, I got on with my job and tried to not get caught up in the sexist attitudes around me, and instead ploughed my own furrow straight through it all.

Now, I hate it when people ask; “what it’s like being a female auctioneer?” I just know what it’s like to be an auctioneer.

Like most auctioneers, I love the showmanship of getting in the box and selling, but don’t enjoy facing down a bullock when he’s unhappy. Also, like most auctioneers, I get butterflies before a sale, but you need that adrenalin.

Whether male or female, every auctioneer needs to be sharp, good at mental arithmetic, know the stock and its value, and be good at building relationships.

None of these skills or attributes are gender-specific, and so there is no reason why women shouldn’t make equally good auctioneers. Personally, I will support any wannabe auctioneer who is keen and committed, regardless of their gender.

Attitudes have moved on a lot since 1986 of course – everyone now knows me and treats me with the same respect as any other auctioneer.

But there is definitely something stopping many women from choosing the profession still.

Looking around, I’m the only female auctioneer of my job seniority in the whole of Scotland. The only other two female auctioneers I know of, work with me at Lanark, currently as trainees. There are two or three other women selling in the north of England, but as far as I know, that’s about it.

How many women are working in mart offices wishing they could be in the box? How many girls are growing up on farms, mad-keen on livestock, but not considering the ring as an option?

Something is still holding their confidence back, and in the meantime farmers and auction marts alike miss out on 50% of the talent.

We all know farming is going to need the best and the brightest, and it’s the job of all of us – marts, farmers, and everyone else in the chain – to encourage women in and to take up one of the most exciting, interesting and rewarding jobs in the industry.

Come on girls, show the boys what you’ve got and give them a bit of healthy competition.