This month we celebrate Women in agriculture! Women have always played a crucial role in farming and with more machinery used on the farm, physical strength does not define a great farmer. Women made a lot of progress in the 1940’s, taking over a large share of the farm work when many men went to war. Upon the return of soldiers after the war, there was a reversal to the “old” gender roles in farming until the 1980’s when women began to reclaim their position on the farm. Normally I try to write about general farm practices but today I will break it down and use my own experience as a woman in agriculture and the experience of my female friends and neighbours – all of us whom are 30-40 years old.
I don’t know if I grew up sheltered or completely unsheltered, but If there was work on the farm to be done everyone had to help. It didn’t matter if you were a son or a daughter. Driving tractors, doing field work, helping with the animals or chopping fire wood. There were no gender roles when it came to work on our farm. I really had no idea gender roles were “a thing” on the farm until I reached University. I watched my Grandma work in the barn lifting 50 pound hay bales while my Grandpa loaded the hay elevator below. That Grandma continues to do field work and work in the barn, she is 84 years old! Impressive lady, but certainly not alone in her work ethic. Women like her were a role model to many of today’s generation of women in agriculture. Many of my friends have grown up the same way and taking over the family farm operations and doing a fantastic job I might add.
It is great to say that 29% of all farms are owned and operated by women. Jumping 12% in 10 years (from 2006 to 2016)! We have to thank the generation before us that began to really break down those gender roles. Today people tend to dwell on the negatives, what we don’t have, I like to look at what has been achieved and what is on the horizon ahead of us for the great Women in Agriculture!