The Underrepresentation of Women in Agriculture

Agriculture and farming is perceived to be a male dominated industry. It has been associated with masculinity throughout history and such association still exists in contemporary society, making it difficult for women in the field to challenge this stereotypical interpretation of the industry.

I recently read an article on CBC.ca by Courtney Markewich discussing the underrepresentation of female farmers, specifically in Saskatchewan. The article depicts statements from two sisters, both farmers, and their experiences and frustrations with the male dominance that exists in agriculture. They explain that they have worked in agriculture from a young age without question though despite their familiarity with the industry they feel as though their contributions are under appreciated because they identify as female.

The article explains how: “According to a 2016 release from the province, one in four farm operators in the province is a woman; one in 10 of those is a sole proprietor” yet despite this finding women in agriculture continue to be considered as less skilled or informed with the practices of farming in comparison to male farmers.

Why is this? Why do we as a society consider maleness and masculinity to be inherent components of farming?

My father and uncle own and operate a tobacco, ginseng, poultry and cash crop farming business together, and myself, my sister and my female cousins have worked and continue to work on the farm without any sort of issue. We are taught how to perform tasks and practices and, miraculously enough, are able to complete these tasks to the same degree of effectiveness as any male would.

I have encountered my fair share of sexist remarks and opinions when I tell individuals I live and work on a farm, and despite the fact that I am bothered by these remarks I am confident in saying that my dad and uncle do not consider my agriculture work to be less suffice than the work a male would do. Farming is becoming more and more female oriented, and it is time these agricultural women receive the recognition they deserve for their work.

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