Women holding laptop in field as corn stalks are baled in evening light. Jevtic/Thinkstock

Corteva study finds gender discrimination is widespread in agriculture

The majority of women reported progress toward gender equality, but 72% said it would take decades to achieve full equality.

Women in agriculture say widespread gender discrimination persists and poses obstacles to their ability to help feed the world, according to a new study from Corteva Agriscience, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont. 

The study included 4,160 respondents living in 17 countries in both the developed and developing world on five different continents.

“We conducted this study to further understand the current status of women farmers around the world - from the largest farms in the most advanced economies to the smallest subsistence farms in the developing world - and to create a baseline from which we can measure progress going forward,” said Krysta Harden, Vice President External Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer of Corteva Agriscience.

Barriers to success

The survey’s findings reveal that although women are overwhelmingly proud to be in agriculture, they perceive gender discrimination as widespread, ranging from 78% in India to 52% in the United States. Other findings:

  • Only half say they are equally successful as their male counterparts; 42% say they have the same opportunities as their male counterparts, and only 38% say they are empowered to make decisions about how income is used in farming and agriculture.
  • Almost 40% of the respondents reported lower income than men and less access to financing. High on the list of concerns were financial stability, the welfare of their families and achieving a work/life balance.
  • Many said they need more training to take advantage of the agricultural technology that has become essential for financial success and environmental stewardship. This desire for training emerged as the most commonly cited need among the respondents for removing gender inequality obstacles. The numbers significantly exceeded 50% for all 17 countries, with Brazil, Nigeria, Kenya, Mexico and South Africa leading the way.
  • The majority of women reported progress toward gender equality, but 72% said it would take one to three decades or more to achieve full equality.

Obstacles to equality

Five key actions, according to the respondents, were identified to remove obstacles to equality:

  1. More training in technology (cited by 80%)
  2. More academic education (cited by 79%)
  3. More support – legal and otherwise – to help women in agriculture who experience gender discrimination (cited by 76%)
  4. Raise the public’s awareness of the success women are achieving in agriculture (cited by 75%)
  5. Raise the public’s awareness of gender discrimination in agriculture (cited by 74%)

“While we know women make up almost half of the world’s farmers, this study validates challenges continue to persist, holding back not only the women in agriculture but also the people who depend on them: their families, their communities, and the societies. Identifying the existence of these challenges is the first step in removing obstacles for rural women farmers to achieve their full potential,” said Harden.

Study stats

Here are the details on the survey:

  • Conducted between August and September 2018.
  • Approximately 4,160 respondents from 17 countries spread across Asia Pacific (24%), North America (21%), Latin America (21%), Europe (19%) and Africa (15%).
  • Most of the women were engaged in crop farming, with others engaged in a variety of other farming and related agricultural pursuits.
  • The farms ranged from small subsistence farms to enterprises with more than 300 employees.
  • Roles ranged from owners and managers to employees and workers.
  • Average age of respondents is 34 years old.
  • Countries surveyed: APAC – China, India, Indonesia, Australia; NA – U.S., Canada; LATAM - Brazil, Mexico, Argentina; EUROPE – France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK; AFRICA - Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa

Source: Corteva Agriscience, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont   

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