March 18 2021 01:24 PM

Some people underestimate the impact females have on dairy farms.

I saw a Facebook post the other day from an old college friend that said if you don’t believe that there is still sexism in 2021, then feel free to walk with her into a car dealership, gun store, or equipment yard. Of course, I commented about how I have had similar experiences here at the farm.

If I were standing with a man and a salesman or feed hauler were to come up the driveway, they would jump out and immediately walk up to the man instead of me first almost 99% of the time. I usually don’t let it bother me too much, but deep down after so many times of this happening, it does ruffle some feathers. One of her statements included “My money spends just as well as a man’s does,” which is very true.

I am not one to go on and on about how women can do anything men can do. I firmly believe that women are made differently. But women working on a farm surprises the average person for some reason. I have had people ask me, “Do they actually let you drive that?” (Um, who is ‘they’?) Or I’ve heard, “I don’t want you to hurt yourself, I’ll unload this.” (I am quite sure if I’m not strong enough to pick it up, I’ll find and operate a piece of equipment that can).

My all-time favorite comment is, “I’d like to speak to the man in charge.” That’s always a fun one. Most of the time they are trying to be polite, and I do realize that. But when they figure out the man in charge is actually a woman in charge, they seem to be completely confused.

Times have changed. Not that women helping on the farm is anything new. My aunt, grandmother, and I’m sure my great-grandmother probably even helped from time to time. But the man was usually the one in charge back then. Over the past 20 to 30 years, women have been excelling in the agriculture industry in all aspects.

When I say this, I am in no shape or form degrading anyone, but to be truthfully honest, in just the past 10 years we have gone from mainly hired men to mostly women employees. And no, we didn’t choose the women over the men, because as most of you know, it’s hard enough these days to find help at all to do this type of work. But through the years, we have had more women come to the farm and stay and more men leave or turn out to not be cut out for the job. It may not be like this everywhere, but that’s what it is like for us.

During almost every tour that is given here at Hillcrest Farm, people comment about the mainly female workforce. People are amazed at the fact. I have had people come up to me afterward and say, “I never knew women did this kind of thing!”

Well, in fact, we do. Every day of the week, all year long. You’d be amazed at what a woman can do. Just go to your local farm and ask for the woman in charge and watch them work. I’d be curious to see if you could find a farm without some type of “woman in charge.”

Caitlin and Mark Rodgers

Mark and Caitlin Rodgers are dairy farmers in Dearing, Georgia. The Rodgers have a 400-cow dairy that averages 32,000 pounds of milk. Follow their family farm on Facebook at Hillcrest Farms Inc.