Womens’ part in boardrooms

(Don’t worry about how I look in my contemplation image. My urge to think, and write, often happens in the early morning – after I have a cup of coffee, but before I have a shower.)

Recently I attended a meeting of a local cooperative. If you are not familiar with how a cooperative works, it’s simple.

The owners of the cooperative are its members. So if a person does business with a cooperative, say purchases a bag of feed for her favorite pet goat, she is a member of that cooperative.

Anyway, as I looked at the board members sitting at the head table and listened to who was up for re-election as a board member, it puzzled me as to why there are not women sitting at the table. Were any women even asked to be a board member?

Is it because many women take off-farm employment or is it our rural-Minnesota roots that prevent women from even being asked?

You know, the fastest growing segment of agriculture is women owner-operators.

Even if the women are not listed as owner-operators, you can bet they have a say in the day-to-day operations of the farm business. Unless, of course, you are of the generation that believes women should be cooking, baking, doing the books and feeding calves.

You wouldn’t believe how many times I get asked if I take care of the baby calves on our farm. I cringe. I don’t like taking care of calves, but put me in a skid loader or a tractor for spreading manure and I am just fine. I can shift our John Deere 2940 with so much as a hop-scotch skip.

Steve does the books on our farm. I could, but I choose not to. He loves doing the books and he is good at it. In fact, he excels at it. I don’t need to be involved. We do have an agreement that anything costing more than $700 needs to be discussed between the two of us. He has his money; I have my money.  We can do with it what we wish, as long as it doesn’t exceed that $700 bench mark.  (For some reason, his savings account grows much faster than mine, but that’s a story for another day!)

Women are also making a move in the sales industry as professionals offering service to ag businesses. Years ago, it was rare to see a woman salesperson knocking on the door. Most of the time it was a man asking for “the man,” and if said man wasn’t home, the sales MAN left. I do know about farming, sir.

Today, many sales women come to help us on the farm. Agronomists, co-op field reps and large-business sales women.

I hope to see more women working as members of local, regional, state and national ag-business boards.

I challenge nominating committees to ask women to become members of boards.

I challenge the women to say, “Yes!”




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