March 24 2016 07:00 AM

Having rejoined the family dairy business right out of college, I gained a new appreciation for working with coworkers.

women working on the farm

The ratio of women to men working in the dairy industry has become a whole lot closer to 50-50. If you were to go back just a few decades ago, or even just 10 years ago, women were next to none in the industry . . . much less having any type of management roles. Times have changed, my friends.

In 2012, I graduated college with a degree in diversified agriculture from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. After graduation, I returned home to take my place in the family business. My dad and uncle decided it was best if I began managing cow health and reproduction. Well, if you think I'm going to tell you the last three years have been a breeze, think again! I absolutely love what I do and the people I work with, but having to manage older men right out the gate will teach you patience!

When I came home from college, I was full of ideas and ready to manage in my own way. Over time, I figured out that instead of trying to get everyone on board with my ideas right off the bat, it was best just to ease into it. Women and men think differently, not that one has a better approach over the other.

Here are some approaches that have worked for me:
  1. Instead of telling your employees to do something, ask them.
  2. Never have your employees feel that you're asking them to do something that you are not willing to do yourself.
  3. Show them respect.
  4. Be willing to listen to your employee's ideas.
  5. Last, but not least, make them feel important to you!
Conflicts between women employers and men employees are not rare. The outcome can be controlled very simply with calmness, respect and restricted emotion.

Caitlin and Mark Rodgers blog footerMark and Caitlin Rodgers are dairy farmers in Dearing, Georgia. Their "Daddy and Daughter Dairy Together" column will appear every other Thursday on HD Notebook. The Rodgers have a 400-cow dairy that averages 32,000 pounds of milk. Follow their family farm on Facebook at Hillcrest Farms Inc.