Many American women are escaping the glass ceiling by working under the clear blue sky.
The U. S. Department of Agriculture recently published a study on female farmers using data from the Census of Agriculture and discovered that, between 1978 and 2007, the amount of women in the agriculture industry nearly tripled, rising from 5 to 14 percent.
In all sales classes, women have increased the amount that they have earned since 1978. Nearly 2,000 women, representing farms of all sizes, report profits of $1 million or more per year. However, most women run small farms and make less than $10,000 annually.
The authors of the USDA report acknowledge that these women often supplement their income through other sources.
Bob Hoppe, one of the authors of the report, explains the increase of female farmers in the census as a result of improvements made in the USDA’s counting method. In the past, very small farms were often neglected in the census, thus overlooking many woman-operated farms. He suggests that the modern farming industry is easier for women to enter. Farmers markets, he also observes, seem to appeal to female producers.
The USDA report acknowledges that many more women are in the agriculture industry than appear in the data. Many women work alongside their husbands or other men on farms but are listed as the secondary operator even when they work as much or more than their male counterparts. While about 300,000 women operate their own farms, about 1 million women work as farm operators accompanied by a man.
Read the full USDA study here.