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Maria Boerngen

Mentor Department



The Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ISPFMRA) is an organization made up of both men and women who are employed in rural professions such as farm management, farmland appraisal, and rural consulting. The society was once all men, but the membership of women is on the rise. Although today this society is mostly made up of men, the group of women within the society play a very important role in the rural professions industry. As young agriculture students some young women may feel that there are many career opportunities not stressed to them as much as other career opportunities. Therefore, it is often a struggle to find information from other women about the careers they have chosen to pursue. The objective of this research was to describe the current participation of women within rural professions in Illinois and to discuss how women can pursue opportunities in professional farm management. Through phone and Zoom interviews in Fall 2020, eight women involved in rural professions from across the state of Illinois provided information related to their background, challenges they have faced in the industry, and advice for young women interested in a future career path similar to theirs. The interviewees ranged from women just beginning their careers to those nearing retirement, allowing for a wide variety of opinions and career stories. Results of the interviews indicate that many young women in the agriculture industry have at one time or another felt they were encouraged to pursue a career they were not interested in, due to their gender. However, many of the women spoke of still following the career path they wanted and having success alongside their male colleagues. Many of the interviewees stressed that young women today should not be intimidated because they are women but should embrace their difference and push for excellence in their careers. The results of this study can inform young women about the career options they have and the mentors they can lean on in the industry.

Women in Rural Professions