For most farm folks, taking a day off of work just isn’t realistic. Animals must be fed and cared for, no matter what the calendar says.
So its understandable that many of my farming friends just couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea that women across the country were going to strike by not working or contributing to the economy today.
Just because a “take a day off” type of protest doesn’t fit the farm and ranch lifestyle, does not negate the need for equality in the agriculture industry.
So what am I going to do about it?
How am I going to work for equality in the industry that I love so dearly?
I’m going to focus on my kids.
Its often said that “children are the greatest thing we grow on our farms.”
We as farm and ranch parents must make a point to raise our sons and daughters to treat people with respect, dignity and equality, regardless of their gender.
I hope our daughters will never be able to write a post like this one.
I hope that if my daughter decides to make her career as a farmer, she is acknowledged as a farmer. Not just a “farmer’s daughter” or “farmer’s wife.”
I hope she is never the only woman in the room at a producer group meeting.
I hope she is asked to judge livestock shows, instead of being treated like a secretary for her dad or brother’s judging offers.
I hope that if she says she wants to be an animal scientist, her parents won’t have to sit her down and explain that if she wants to be taken seriously she’ll have to be a Dr. not a Mrs.
When she meets with a male client, I hope his wife doesn’t feel threatened by her.
I hope that “women’s programs” at agriculture conferences are a thing of the past and that no one ever questions why she’d rather be in the waste management seminar with the rest of the farmers.
I hope that if she is ever pregnant, she will be able to make her own decisions on what tasks and travel are healthy for her. I hope she is never sidelined just because someone assumes she can’t do something while pregnant.
I hope that if she breastfeeds she will not be shamed for needing 15 minutes to pump while her male counterparts take smoke breaks whenever they please.
I hope she doesn’t have to shop around for a feed mill or veterinarian because so many treat her like she’s an idiot.
I hope that when she packs for a business trip she doesn’t have to try on 27 outfits to find the ones that look “cute enough” but still boring enough that no one assumes she’s trying to pick up a date.
I hope she doesn’t have to come up with polite and professional answers to being called “sweetie,” “honey” and “little lady.”
I hope she never has to add “my daddy said” or “my husband said” as a preface to her own thoughts just to be taken seriously.
Because each and every one of these things has happened to me.
I hope and pray that someday when I tell my children these stories they’ll be shocked by them.
Maybe they’ll be baffled that there was ever a time when I was the only woman in the room at a producer meeting.
Maybe we’ll all laugh about how ridiculous it was that someone actually called me to ask if their uncle (the one who couldn’t get away from the farm fast enough) could judge their livestock show but didn’t want me to do it because I’m a woman.
Maybe they’ll be proud to hear stories of how their father and grandfather stood up for me, but shake their head at the idea that it was ever necessary.
While this is my hope, I know that it will not be their reality if we as parents do not create it for them.
We must be the ones to hire the female judges for our livestock shows.
We must be the ones who quit critiquing ladies’ outfits and start focusing on their work.
We must be the ones who speak up when we see women being put down and dismissed simply because they are female.
We as parents of the next generation in agriculture must step out, step on some toes and stand up for equality if we want our daughters to have it.
Please note: I am well aware of the fact that many women in agriculture have faced different challenges than the specific examples I have discussed in this post. Some have faced very minor sexism while others have faced far worse treatment than I can fathom.
As with all posts on this blog, I focus on sharing MY experiences. Those experiences may not resonate with yours, and that’s O.K. What is most important is that all of us in agriculture work together to create an industry standard of respect and equality.