The History and Rise of Women in Agriculture

March is Women’s History Month, a special time to celebrate and honor the contributions, accomplishments, and lives of women throughout society. The annual commemoration planted its roots back in 1909, when a group of suffragettes in Manhattan gathered for a strike led by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. They dubbed the event Women’s Day. Over the past several decades, Women’s History Month has expanded to include women from all industries and walks of life.

At the Farm Bureau Insurance Company of Idaho, we strongly believe that women play a vital role in the field of agriculture. We empower female Idahoan farmers, ranchers, business owners, educators, and other leaders and team members to be innovative, resilient, productive, and continue to break boundaries.

A Brief History of Women in Agriculture

Records show that women have worked in agriculture for millennia. Since around 10,000 B.C., women have contributed to technologies and processes when it comes to harvesting crops and transforming them into edible ingredients or usable materials. More recently, they have been tending to farmland since the early 19th Century.

Fast-forward to the 1940s, when men were called to serve overseas during World War II. Millions of females stepped up to take care of family farms across the country, a duty predominantly held by males while women primarily cared for their children. Even when their husbands and sons returned home, women continued to be assets in the field.

Women in Agriculture Today

Girls and women of all ages are being supported and encouraged to pursue agricultural careers. Today, women make up approximately 40% of the global farming workforce, as reported by AgAmerica.

Over the past 40+ years, the number of women-led farms in the United States has tripled. However, while women have made strides throughout history, there are still a number of issues when it comes to inequality. For instance, only 14% of American farm operators are female. And unfortunately, in some parts of the world, women are not legally allowed to own land. These obstacles prevent women from accomplishing goals, feeding families and communities, and achieving independence.

More women are paving their own career paths in agriculture than ever before. According to research conducted by the University of Idaho:

  • Over 16,000 (70%) Idaho farms have at least one woman operator.
  • More than 17,000 (39%) of Idaho farmers and ranchers are women.
  • Nearly 11,000 (45%) of principal farmers and ranchers in Idaho are women.

Organizations, Groups, and Helpful Resources for Women in Agriculture

As gender stereotypes and glass ceilings continue to be shattered, women in agriculture are making their ascent while inspiring future generations to work hard and defy the status quo. The upward growth has opened doors that were previously shut.

Keeping farms and ranches protected is a top priority of the Farm Bureau Insurance Company of Idaho. To learn more about investing in the right farm and ranch insurance, contact your local agent.

Disclaimer: The information included here is designed for informational purposes only. It is not legal, tax, financial or any other sort of advice, nor is it a substitute for such advice. The information may not apply to your specific situation. We have tried to make sure the information is accurate, but it could be outdated or even inaccurate in parts.