The Future is Female…For Agriculture?

By on November 2, 2021

The following blog is a guest post provided by Sydney Gainey, a Senior in Agribusiness at the University of Mount Olive. The article is part of a series of blogs provided by UMO students.

When many people think agriculture, they think dirty, masculine, and dangerous jobs. Agricultural careers have historically suffered from many inaccurate stereotypes and misperceptions. While agriculture has some of the most dangerous jobs based on national averages, it is also a field that is actively growing with female recruits. While the average job marketed to women is in the field of health care, administrative support, or personal grooming, there are many women choosing to make a career in agriculture.

The USDA estimates a need for nearly 60,000 high skilled job openings in the field of agriculture annually, but only 35,000 graduates to fill these jobs.

You may be asking yourself why so many women are entering the agriculture industry? The truth is that the answers vary. Careers focused on science, math, technology, and applied sciences are in demand. There is also a great interest in jobs where the sciences are used in a real-world setting like agriculture.

Females were once overshadowed by males in production, leadership, and education arenas in agriculture as women assumed roles in managing the household. However, today with technological advancements, greater access to education, new policy creation, and the normalization of female roles in the industry have allowed women to find new routes to enter the field of agriculture, with the option of staying in the office, the laboratory or getting out in the dirt.

Now just how many women are entering agriculture jobs? While we do not know exactly how many women are undertaking careers in agriculture every year, the USDA’s 2017 Census of Agriculture reported that women now make up 36% of the total population of U.S. farmers. This rate grew 6% since the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture, indicating the upward shift of women farmers alone. As for the International Labor Organization, as of 2020, women are filling 38% of total agricultural, forestry, and fishery jobs, all of which are growing in need.

The agriculture industry ensures safe, affordable, and reliable access to food and natural resources for consumers in our nation. Both men and women are needed to ensure a dynamic industry’s future vitality. Agriculture is a growing industry worldwide. A growing world population, declining landmass and a continuing desire to produce more food with fewer inputs will require our best and brightest thinkers.

There is no doubt, to successfully address these critical issues, women skilled in agriculture and related sciences will need to play a significant role.

Sources:

  • Rein, B. (1992, June). Health Hazards In Agriculture – An Emerging Issue. NASD- National Ag Safety Database. Retrieved October 13, 2021, from https://nasdonline.org/1246/d001050/health-hazards-in-agriculture-an-emerging-issue.html.
  • These occupations are dominated by women. ILOSTAT- International Labor Organization. (2020, March 6). Retrieved October 13, 2021, from https://ilostat.ilo.org/these-occupations-are-dominated-by-women/.
  •  Women in Agriculture Survey 2019. American Farm Bureau Federation – The Voice of Agriculture. (2019, October 31). Retrieved October 13, 2021, from https://www.fb.org/market-intel/women-in-agriculture-survey-2019.
  • Women in farming and the Agriculture Sector: Research Report. Scottish Government. (2017, June 23). Retrieved October 13, 2021, from https://www.gov.scot/publications/women-farming-agriculture-sector/pages/9/.
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