What Women Bring to Agriculture

By   |   September 9th, 2015   |   0 Comments

11947671_1024793964221584_3790525431615764130_nAs a woman who grew up knowing I wanted to be a part of the agricultural industry, I never looked at myself and thought I was limited because of my gender. I never even saw agriculture as necessarily male-dominated or as a field where I couldn’t work alongside my male counterparts as equals. I loaded cattle onto a trailer and shoveled manure alongside my parents, my sister and my brothers; I led, volunteered and competed with young women and men in my high school FFA chapter; and today I partner with working men and women throughout North America in my role with AgCareers.com. I have simply always seen myself working as an individual every day to better the world somehow through my efforts, and agriculture seemed like a fulfilling and fun way for me to do just that.


11947433_1024794407554873_4741415824504236757_nIt was only during a persuasion course during my pursuit of my undergraduate degree that I was opened to the generalization (arguably fact) that men are often better compensated for their work than women. Agriculture was one of the mentioned industries during that day’s study.


AgCareers.com is conducting a survey entitled “Gender Roles and Equality in Agribusiness” in which we ask men and women in agriculture how they compare with one another in terms of compensation, treatment, parenting roles and more. More than 2,000 respondents have completed our survey; 64% are female and 36% are male. Here are some notable figures from the preliminary results:


  • 78% of women surveyed believe there is gender inequality in agribusiness. 47% of men surveyed agreed.
  • 49% of women surveyed believed they would be better compensated if they were male. 20% of men agreed that they would be compensated worse if they were female.
  • 50% of women surveyed have experienced blunt sexism or discrimination based on their gender in the workplace.
  • 49% of women surveyed disagreed that women are sufficiently represented in agriculture. 36% of men also disagreed.
  • 74% of women surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that they felt outnumbered as a woman by men in agribusiness.


Many are quick to think that agriculture is a male-dominated field when in reality the number of women working in the industry is equal to the number of men. The opinions stated in these preliminary results speak for the industry, and they’re saying what we’ve pushed under the rug for decades: women in agriculture need to be provided with the opportunities and acceptance to thrive in this industry.


While the above preliminary figures from our survey provide a negative perception, we also uncovered many positive findings:


  • 42% of women surveyed consider themselves “breadwinners” for their households.
  • The top three qualities women felt they brought to the agricultural industry included dependability, leadership and advocacy.
  • 59% of women surveyed said that they felt women have made their presence known in agribusiness.
  • 81% of women surveyed felt that in the past ten years, women working in agribusiness has changed for the better. 81% of men agreed.


A complete report of this survey will be posted to AgCareers.com in October.


AgCareers.com also recently held a contest on our Facebook and Twitter platforms in which women who work in agriculture were asked to send in photos of themselves immersed in their daily work. We received more than 80 entries that can be viewed in an album on our Facebook page. While we rewarded the top two photos with the most “likes,” I feel I speak for many viewers of this album when I say that all of the women pictured are winners.


11933407_1024794360888211_8496035220951533462_nThese women represent the gentle hands that tirelessly care for our livestock each day but are also strong enough to harvest hay and fertilize our fields. These women represent the long hours put in working to mold the minds of young future farmers but also the voices that answer the tough questions our industry faces. These women represent mothers dedicated to raising future generations with a love for our land but also daughters reaping our land’s benefits alongside sons.


Join me in celebrating strong women in agriculture. Look at a woman not for her gender but for her heart, her passion for what she does, and her drive to succeed in creating a better world alongside her fellow agricultural employees.


Look for the completed “Gender Roles and Equality in Agribusiness” report coming soon to AgCareers.com’s Market Research page.

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