Traditionally men’s roles included farm work, chores, and providing the income for the family, while women have raised the kids, completed housework, and sometimes putting out the garden. The agricultural industry was no different as women weren’t traditionally part of the farming operations. But it is no longer the traditional days, and women no longer stay in the kitchen. They are making waves in all parts of the agricultural industry.
Woman farmers are becoming more common as well. According to the USDA agricultural census, 14 percent of the 2.1 million farms in the US had a female operator. This doesn’t mean women haven’t always played a role on the farm. Having helped their spouses, brothers, and fathers with crops or livestock. Never expecting to be gone momentarily when “I just need your help for a minute” happens. Women have taken their roles in stride and even created organizations for women in agriculture. The American Agri-Women Organization was created in 1974 who have been involved in creating differences in legislative and regulatory matters at all levels as well as education for students and consumers. For 42 years, these women have helped create gender equality as women made a difference in the way history was made.
In 2016, the College of ACES at the University of Illinois made history as they appointed their first woman dean. Dean Kimberlee Kidwell is making an impact in the industry now and prior to her role as Dean because she developed more than 20 wheat varieties for farmers in the Northwest. She is a leader in the gender equality for women. Women also play important parts in other professional roles. Eight of twelve employees in the IL Corn office are women. Most of the Illinois county Farm Bureau managers are women. These roles help equivalate men and women in professional roles. No longer part of just the kitchen and raising children. Other professional roles women have included CEOs, public relations, marketing, purchasing, risk management and so many more!
To celebrate the more diverse roles of women in a male-dominated industry the word FarmHer was created. Often used as a hashtag on social media, this celebration of women shows how much they contribute to women in today’s industry usually through photos or videos that show the roles women play.
So where are the women? We are in pajamas feeding the cows. We are driving the combine in the fall. We are Farm Bureau Managers. We are becoming the first woman dean. We are in offices as CEOs. We are selling seed. We are hedging futures. We are making a difference with every move we make.
University of Illinois