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Research team aims to explore challenges women in agriculture face

Posted at 4:53 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 18:56:42-04

MAGIC VALLEY — A group of researchers at the University of Idaho are working to explore gender bias in the agriculture industry and the obstacles women in that field face. The research team is surveying women involved in all types of agriculture jobs in Idaho about their experience and the challenges they might be facing.

“In Idaho, 70 percent of farms have at least one woman operator on them, so we know that women are really important to agriculture," Ryanne Pilgeram, Sociology Professor at the University of Idaho and project manager, said.

Even though women account for more than half of primary producers, throughout Idaho, Pilgeram says they still face certain barriers their male counterparts don't. Their goal is to try and alter or create new resources for them after they see the results.

“It’s been interesting we’ve done a bunch of focus groups around the state and there were some places in the state where we found, in my interviews of these focus groups, where women were saying that they couldn’t get loans and I know they’re the types of loans that these women should have access to," Pilgeram said.

In separate research, the team also found a wage gap between men and women in agriculture jobs.

“Women farmworkers are much less likely to get a bonus at the end of the season. I don’t know why. Who knows why women farmworkers aren't getting bonuses when men are getting bonuses, but those drive some of the differences in the wage gap between women and men," Pilgeram said.

The research is also looking at how women access resources and whether that plays a role in getting the support they need.

“Ultimately the next stage is to use that research information to look at the educational programs that we have now and assess them. Are these the educational programs that women need? Do we need to deliver them in a different way or at a different time of year or do we need to develop new educational programs that are specific to women in agriculture," Colette DePhelps, Area Extension Educator at the University of Idaho, said.

The team is also doing outreach to try and reach as many undocumented farmworkers as possible, even providing a Spanish version of the survey.

“We are just excited that women are willing to take the time to share their experience, it’s phenomenal," DePhelps said.

Women in agriculture looking to participate in this research have until April 30 to complete the survey. Click on this link if you'd like to participate.