EAST LANSING, Mich. — The 2012 Census of Agriculture notes that nearly 1 million women are working America’s lands. That is nearly one third of our nation’s farmers. These women are generating $12.9 billion in annual agricultural sales. Women are also scientists, economists, foresters, veterinarians and conservationists. Women are in the boardrooms, corner offices of international enterprises, and are the owners and operators of small businesses. Women are property owners and managers. Women are policymakers and standard bearers. Women are involved in every aspect of agriculture.
Women in agriculture have a powerful story to tell – one of stewardship, resilience and leadership – from the combine to the boardroom. There are many opportunities to contribute your voice and experience to your field. Working in agriculture can open the door for women to be involved in many similar careers. Being able to communicate your background and expertise is important. Many times women not only work on the farm; driving tractor, feeding animals, etc. many women are working in agricultural related careers that were once mostly a male occupation.
Tell Your Story
The key for women in agriculture is to learn to tell your own story
Talk about your farm or your area of expertise in the industry. Be positive. Let people know what you love about working in agriculture.
Know your audience
Know what they are interested in.
Know what is happening currently in the industry and be ready to talk about it.
Keep it simple
Talk about what you know…but not too much at first, use examples from your own farm or ones you know first-hand.
Speak with confidence
If you’re asked about something you’re not comfortable that you know the answer, there are ways to manage that. You could refer them to your local Michigan State University Extension office, or take their name and let them know you back to them.
Use easy to understand words and explanations
Industry jargon is a common mistake, use easy to understand concepts.
Show you care
Sincerity is critical to building trust.
Know the line
Keeping positive often means finding the right balance between inviting discussion while avoiding debates and confrontations.
Whether you are looking for a new job or advancing your career, if you are a women working in agriculture, yes, even your family farm, learning to share your story and expertise can help you. Speak up and be proud. Many employers would be overjoyed to have someone who comes to them already prepared with a variety of skills and expertise.