Experts: Gender Boundaries Shifting in Agriculture Industry

Article excerpt

Women generally outlive men. The traditional male inheritor of a family business doesn't always stay on the farm. And culture is changing to shift focus away from male dominance.

Those are just a few reasons women seem to be playing a bigger role in the agriculture industry, said Damona Doye, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension farm management specialist. But in actuality, they've been running things behind the scenes anyway. Strong turnout at the Women in Agriculture & Small Business Conference at the Moore Norman Technology Center this week shows that women are becoming more aware of the important role they've been playing.

"I've been in education since 1986, and when I first started doing programs and making presentations I'd have people come to me and say afterwards, 'You're with the home economics program?'" Doye said. "So the environment has changed a lot. You see more women involved in farm service agencies and agriculture academics and also as principal operators.

"I wouldn't say it's a sea change, though," she said. "Women have always been involved in farming. As the agriculture environment has changed and become more complex because of the need to be attuned to international markets as well as price variability, women have stepped up because there's too much for one person to do."

The purpose of the two-day conference, which ends Friday, is to provide information on a wide range of topics to help women feel better able to address business problems, OSU-OKC Manufacturing Extension agent Jannetta Clark said. The event also fosters networking between participants and interaction with conference experts that often leads to business development inspiration and solutions. …