Women’s Work

Cherie and I both work full time on the farm. This time of year we both work very long days, every day. Without both of us, it couldn’t get done.

When we send out emails to our customers, or our weekly newsletter, the signature block always has both of our names. We try to emphasize as frequently as we can that we are a partnership, and that the farm belongs to and is run by both of us.

It can be frustrating, particularly for her, when people fail to recognize that. Often the responses to our emails will be addressed only to me. Sometimes a response comes back addressed to me even if Cherie signed her name only to the original email.

We split the duties with social media, but Cherie authors and posts most of them. Yet almost without fail if someone responds to them they use my name only. Cherie will post something on Facebook and responses will be things like “Thanks Bill!” Or “Bill: here’s our order…” or “Great photo Bill!” Recently it was happening so frequently that Cherie wondered what folks think she does around here.

I know it’s frustrating for her when people seem to perceive that the farm is me, and me only. Some of this may be attributable to enculturated gender roles and stereotypes. It happens in lots of other ways too.  In our household Cherie is the one with the mechanical skills so most household fix-up projects are done by her. But she’s told me about asking questions in hardware stores and having workers there explain to her what she should tell her husband about the items she is buying (they assume she is just buying the item, and that her husband will be the person using it).

Hopefully these ways of thinking are changing. After all, 30% of U.S. farmers are women.

For the women farmers out there I’m sure you don’t need to hear this, but for everybody else, we need to start putting to bed the old stereotypical image of farmers as men only. These days that is simply not the case.