Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Smyth, J. D., Swendener, A. and Kazyak, E. (2018), Women's Work? The Relationship between Farmwork and Gender Self-Perception. Rural Sociology.



Copyright © 2018, by the Rural Sociological Society. Published by John Wiley & Sons. Used by permission.


Women have long been involved in agricultural production, yet farming and ranching have been associated with masculinity and men. In recent years women have become more involved and more likely to take active and equal roles on farms and ranches and thus increasingly are doing tasks that have been associated with masculinity. Prior work indicates that women are perceived by others as more masculine when they do these tasks, but less work has focused on the association between women’s involvement in farming and women’s own perceptions of their gender (i.e., how masculine or feminine they feel). Using 2006 survey data from a random sample of women in livestock and grain operations in Washington State, we find that women’s involvement in farm and ranch tasks is associated with their gender self- perception, with more involvement being associated with a more masculine self-perception. Women who view their primary role as independent agricultural producers or full partners also perceive themselves as more masculine than women who view their primary role as homemaker. We discuss the implications of these findings for women’s experiences in agriculture.