The work of farming women
Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/14653
This research on the work of farming women presents an accurate picture of what these women do on and off the farm, in the house, and in the community. It presents the opinions of farming women, of themselves, and of how others - the rural community, the rural service industry (RSI), and society views them in their farming role. By comparing and contrasting the women's views and those of the RSI and society, comment is made on the implications of policy which develops from inaccurate stereotypes and outdated perceptions. Here is where my research reaches further than much research that has been undertaken on the role of farming women. Sociological and economics research does not focus on the power plays which help to contradict the role the women see for themselves. It does not investigate the implications of policy upon farming women. My research looks at political power play and discusses why change in policies must be effected. To present a true picture of farming women, and how attitudes and policy may affect their power status, I used three methodologies. All participants completed a questionnaire which asked them about their household, their farm, work experience, finances, services and amenities, awareness of farm involvement, and background information. They completed two 48 hour time use diaries, as developed by the FAO Asia-Pacific Office. This gave an accurate picture of how the women spent their time, what farm, house, and community work they undertook, where the work was performed,who with and for. These two methodologies provided invaluable information on time use - both seasonal and yearly. Information from the questionnaire, and from the personal interviews, held with 30% of the sample, provides commentary on how the women see their role in farming, and how they feel different sectors of society view their contribution to farming. Interviews were also held with members of the RSI. Their perceptions of the roles of women in farming are presented and compared with the women's feelings of the RSI's views. The majority of women viewed themselves as farmers, or in a farming occupation if they were non-owners. They saw their contribution in many ways - physical, financial, administrative, managerial, supportive and organisational. Approximately two thirds of the women felt that they were accepted in that role, but comments from all women made it clear that while society accepts men in farming without question, women have had to prove themselves to be as knowledgeable and skilled as their male counterparts. Women are still faced with rural service people who are rude, insult their intelligence, or just ignore them in farm dealings and discussions. Information gained from the RSI interviews would suggest that the majority have outdated perceptions of the roles of farming women. Because of the gap between the images of farming women held by society, and the reality of the work of farming women, there are serious policy implications. If their work is unpaid and invisible then they are invisible as beneficiaries of policy - be it private or public, social or economic. People's attitudes and perceptions of farming women must change, and they must recognise these women's contribution and differing roles. Changes in policy must be effected. Women must be viewed, not as helpers, but as knowledgeable and skilled farmers, in their own right.
The University of Waikato
All items in Research Commons are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
- Masters Degree Theses