A woman, proudly on horseback, rides through a cattle herd. Another woman in a cowboy hat and boots, surveys a pasture. A third hauls freshly picked produce from the field.
These are some images of women who are working America’s farms and ranches. Women have always been an integral part of our Nation’s agricultural history. The 2012 Agricultural Census counts nearly 1 million of us in the fields and on the land. What else can numbers and images tell us about the role women are playing in agriculture? What else are we not counting or seeing?
This week, I hosted a fascinating Google+ hangout with Dr. Linda Young, Chief Mathematical Statistician and Director of Research and Development of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS); and Marji Guyler-Alaniz, founder of FarmHer, a photography project focusing on women in agriculture. We talked about how women are portrayed in the pictures and statistics about agriculture, and how these numbers and images can be improved to be more reflective of the actual experiences women are having on our fields and farms. The conversation was inspiring and enlightening. I hope you have a chance to take a look.
Women will continue to play a critical role in our country’s agricultural future. It is our responsibility to represent them correctly. That’s one reason NASS, under Dr. Young’s leadership, is holding an expert panel to review the way we gather statistics about women. The panel, to be held in Washington, DC on April 2-3, is open to public comment. More information about how you can participate is available on the NASS website.
I also invite you to join USDA’s new Women in Agriculture Mentoring Network to connect with other women leaders in agriculture by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow the current conversation about women in agriculture via #womeninag.