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The State of Women in Agriculture in 2020

Myasia Burns

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Fellow agribusiness movers and shakers: Our industry is changing right before our eyes.

According to the 2019 Agribusiness HR Review, 63% of agribusiness companies surveyed reported that the proportion of women in their workforce has grown over the past five years.

More women in ag signals good news, considering that we’re acknowledging increased diversity can impact business performance exponentially. At this year’s Annual Meat Conference, several sessions were dedicated to encouraging diversity in the workforce for just that reason.

In order to keep the diverse pipeline strong, we have to continue to feed it with young, hungry talent. Many of us know that diversity is integral to success but are at a loss about how to nurture it. We’ve got some tips for you.

Start ‘Em Young

So how do we continue to attract more women to careers in agriculture?  Start ‘em young. Young women have been shown to outperform young men in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), but they also opt out of STEM subjects at higher rates, too1. What’s the issue? Confidence. Planting the seed of support early with STEM-focused curriculums, getting young women involved with FFA and helping them to secure internships and other robust learning opportunities can have a big payoff later: strong female leaders for agribusiness.   

Don’t Forget the Inclusion Part of D&I

The issue of women in ag encompasses more than just number of female employees; it also extends to ensuring that they play vital roles within their organizations. Think of it like this: Diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance. A seat at the table has immense power to change future generations, so cultivating women leaders through retention and employee engagement activities will help to ensure that from the top down, the gender gap is being addressed by people who know what it’s like to encounter it.

More Work to be Done

Even though women are the fastest growing segment in agriculture2, women across different slices of the industry are still earning significantly less for every dollar earned by male counterparts. With farm operators, for example, women earn 61 cents for every dollar earned by men3. Similarly, only 16% of women-run farms profit more than $50,000 annually, as opposed to 27% for men-run farms4. While we’ve made progress getting more women into ag and putting them in leadership roles, it’s clear we have more work to do to close the gender gap and get everyone on an equal footing.

At Midan, we’re taking great care to ensure our entire team has the tools they need to do really great work together. As of 2020, we’re powered by more than 75% women, with several of them in management and leadership roles – not to mention one of our two Principals, Danette Amstein, is a woman, too!  When asked about women at Midan, she recalled an anecdote from our early days:

In Midan’s early years at an Annual Meat Conference, Principal Michael Uetz was the only man representing our team. When asked by another man why he was so “outnumbered,” Michael replied, “Because we only hire the best person for the job and so far, that has only been women!”

We’re calling on our fellow partners in agriculture to work just as hard as we do to create more meaningful roles for women in the industry we love.

1 Forbes, February 2019
2 USDA 2017 Census of Agriculture, April 2019
3 Women, Food & Ag Network, October 2019
4 Pacific Standard, May 2019