Agriculture is the numerous amount of hours spent harvesting corn in the September sunset, waking up at 5 a.m. to complete chores in the barn before getting ready for school, and bagging corn on that hot summer day. However, agriculture is not limited to these tasks. There are also agricultural careers related to agricultural communications, food scientists, crop scientists, and so on. When thinking of these jobs, what is the gender that comes to mind? Males.
I am a female studying Agricultural Communications at the University of Illinois. My courses talk about careers dealing with communications, marketing, and sales in the agriculture industry. Therefore, males are not alone in terms of agriculture. These office jobs contain many women (and men, but mostly women), who make it possible for the farmers to continue a successful season in the field. As I learn about the many career opportunities for women in agriculture, I am also reminded that because I am not the male in the family who will be taking over the family farm, I am still able to obtain a career within agriculture. However, is the office the only place for women?
The answer is no, and I was exposed to this firsthand as I was at dinner the other night with a friend of mine when the conversation struck about where our parents worked.
“What does your mom do again?” I asked Ellen.
“She’s a farmer” was her response.
I should not have been surprised as I heard these words, but somehow I was. It was a different response than I have ever heard. “She’s a farmer”….yes, you read that right. There is an ‘s’ before the ‘he’.
Although I was raised on a grain farm in Central Illinois, this was still uncommon for me to hear. Ellen’s mom, Janet Gillen, is a farmer in Western Illinois with her husband, Dick. Jan and Dick collaborated the two farms into the Reeder-Gillen Farms. Jan did not grow up in a family who relied exclusively on farming. She never had the experience of being in a combine for 12 hours a day, and Jan also never would have guessed that she would be farming in her future career.
Jan is not alone among the female population who operate a farm. Although the percentage of female owned farms is fairly small, it is not uncommon to see a woman helping in the field during planting and harvesting. Jan is a perfect example of the impact among women in agriculture.
As Jan is in the field planting corn to help feed the world, other women are communicating the importance of her job, developing a new types of seeds, and many other occupations to help Jan have a successful farming season. Every aspect of agriculture includes women. As a a female in agriculture, I do not see any limitations on what job is for females and what is for males. I have realized the importance of women in agriculture, and the impact that we make among the industry.