Women’s roles in agriculture, forestry, and fishing have been shrinking since the 1970s, according to a new study from the U.S. Geological Survey.
The study finds that women now account for only about 20 percent of all farm workers.
“It’s a very small percentage,” said study co-author Stephanie Seneff, an associate professor of geology at the University of Texas.
“The trend is to keep women in agriculture and forestry as a result of the economic growth.”
The study is the latest in a long line of studies that have highlighted women’s roles as leaders in farming and other traditionally male occupations.
They have also led to changes in policies to help them.
“Women are making the changes that we need to have the greatest possible impact on food security, the greatest potential for agricultural productivity, and the greatest likelihood for the survival of species and species populations,” Senef said.
“And they are doing it by doing the best they can, as best they know how, in their own unique way.”
The new study, released Monday in the journal Science Advances, is the first to track the trends in women’s agricultural roles.
It shows that the number of women farming has fallen from 30 percent of the labor force in 1980 to about 14 percent in 2012, which is still far below the levels of the 1960s and 1970s.
And while women still make up a large share of the workforce in agricultural production, they have fallen out of a larger share of fields, as well.
About 70 percent of women in fields and other work-related occupations were employed in farming in 2012.
About two-thirds of women working in farming were in a career related to farming.
A woman who was a farmer in the 1970.
About 20 percent were in the fields.
About 10 percent were involved in other work related to agriculture.
About 1 percent were employed as farm laborers.
A person who was employed in agriculture in 1980.
About 60 percent were working in a farm, forestry or fishing occupation.
About 8 percent were farmers.
About 4 percent were fishers.
Seneef and her colleagues found that the share of women on farms has declined since the mid-1990s, partly because the number in those fields has been shrinking.
But the number on the farms that still were predominantly women has declined too.
The share of people in fields is down from 68 percent in 1960 to 62 percent in 2016, according the study.
About 13 percent of people working in forestry or fisheries occupations were women in the 1980s.
About 6 percent were women.
About 3 percent were men.
The researchers calculated the share in farming based on census data from the 1970 census and then calculated the percentage of farms that were predominately female by adding up the total number of people on farms that year.
They found that in 2016 women comprised about 16 percent of total farms in the United States.
“So, what’s changed?
Well, we have a lot more women working on farms now,” Shenf said in an interview.
“I think that has a lot to do with the changing patterns in the economic and demographic realities of farming.”
Women are a larger part of the agriculture workforce today than they were when the study began.
They accounted for just over 4 percent of farm workers in the 1960 census.
They now make up about 16.6 percent of farms, according a new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The new data suggest that women farmers are not being overlooked by employers as the economic downturn continues.
“There’s a lot of concern about the women working across the board and the way they are being valued and being treated,” Sarno said.
But Seneaff said it is a trend that will continue as women work harder and make more money.
“We think that is the direction in which we need women to be,” Serenf said, adding that she is also worried about the impact of the women’s labor on the environment.
“They are the ones who need to be doing the environmental cleanup, cleaning up the water, and we don’t want to take away from the work that they’re doing in the field.”
Seneyff said that while the current economic downturn is likely to affect agriculture for some time, the next economic downturn may be the most difficult to recover from.
“In a lot: it’s a cyclical thing, the way we’re getting along,” she said.
As the economy rebounds, she said, women could be at the forefront of the effort to help farmers stay afloat.
“If you’re a farmer and you’re seeing an increase in your income, you’re not going to go to the store and buy new clothes.
So, if you’re looking for ways to support your family financially, we need all women to come into the field,” she explained.
The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization predicts that women will make up less than half of the global workforce by 2050, and Seneysf said that would be especially hard to achieve