Why gender roles are becoming obsolete in agriculture

August 31, 2015

3 Min Read
Why gender roles are becoming obsolete in agriculture

I recently read an article titled, “Daddy’s little girl holds new meaning on the farm.” Written by Traci Tiernan for farmandranchjobs.com, the article is about how gender roles aren’t as important when it comes to working on the farm or ranch.

Tiernan writes, “On the farm, I wasn’t just daddy’s little girl, I insisted on doing just as much as my brother. I wanted to be treated just like the boys and would not have it any other way. It doesn’t matter if you just got home from gymnastics or the salon, when you return to the farm and it’s time for chores, all bets are off. As a girl, I was expected to carry the full feed buckets just like my brother did, and I was expected to sort cattle, no matter how badly I wanted to be on the other side of the fence. A farm father will treat his daughters just like his sons because the work has got to be done and there is no time to sit and look pretty.”

I can relate to Tiernan’s article as I was one of three girls on our family’s cattle ranch, and our dad treated us just as if he had sons. We could be girly girls when we wanted to, but when it was time to get things done, we could hold our own and were expected to work just as hard as anyone else.

Making my dad proud and keeping up with the guys was worth its weight in gold to me. And in my adult life, knowing how to work hard from a childhood spent on a cattle ranch has been valuable in getting established as a writer and public speaker as well as a rancher. Having a daughter of my own, I’ll admit I love dressing her up and playing dolls, but she’s quickly becoming more interested in being outside on the ranch, and I know she’s going to be a good helper someday. In agriculture, the gender gap is quickly closing. According to the most recent USDA census, the number of women farmers in the United States was 969,672, and women account for 30% of the nation’s farmers.

I recently heard about a new documentary titled, “Good Ol Girl” that chronicles the developing stages of three Texas ranches owned and operated by women. One is a single mother of five and a cancer survivor. Another is a young lawyer who is set to inherit her family’s ranch. The third is a 70-year-old widow who is fighting to keep her husband’s legacy alive, so she can pass on the ranch to her grandson.

The video investigates a wide variety of women’s issues set in an industry that has been historically ruled by men. As a woman in agriculture, I’m looking forward to watching this documentary. But more than that, the trailer looks promising that the movie will showcase the many obstacles that all ranchers — both men and women face — to make their ranches sustainable through the generations. Watch the trailer below.

Are you a woman in agriculture? How have you made your mark in the industry and in your own operation? For our male readers, do your wives and daughters take an active role in the ranching business? Share your stories in the comments section below.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.


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