Today, I was one among several hundred women and girls at the Women Changing the Face of Agriculture Conference. What a unique experience! Through FFA and my college experience, I have attended many conferences focused on agriculture. I never felt like a minority and I never noticed the general pronouns or inappropriate use of subjects. “Where are you guys from?” “What major are you?” are commonplace questions at these events, and in the classroom. Today was a different venue and the use of just plain girls sounded foreign to my ears.
It even reminded me of my Spanish language education. Yes, that’s right- good old espanol (I don’t remember how to make the tilde over the n) class. If there is a group of just girls they are called “chicas” but if there is a single boy among the group one must use “chicos” instead. I can still hear my Spanish teacher to this day, “Chee-cos, chee-cos” (her special, dramatic pronounciation). One day she began with the usual “Chee-cos, cheecos!!” to quiet down our restless chatter, however, she looked around and realized every boy was absent.
Which as you can see, didn’t take much as there were only two. But still. “Chicas, chicas!” got our attention immediately because chicas is not a word you hear very much in this class. Or anywhere else.
Today, I was again reminded of how bizarre it is to be surrounded by only females. A presenter called us girls and it sounded foreign, even more so than my Spanish classes.
But this is besides the point. The point is that there are women in agriculture. Just not as many as we would wish but to be surrounded by hundreds of women in agriculture, whether in FFA or the industry, was incredible.
I was shocked to hear at a women’s conference where everywhere I looked I saw girls proudly displaying the iconic blue corduroy jackets-that only 36% of members in the FFA are females. While this is not a reference to the women entering into agricultural careers-it is a reference.
This conference is a step in the right direction. It is showing young women that there are careers in agriculture available. As a young woman looking to join the agricultural workforce in a few years, it is encouraging.
One woman said that she started at an ag company four years ago without a single woman manager, today there are four. We must continue these strides towards equality and teach our daughters that there is a place in agriculture for them.