I wouldn’t have thought much about you before last night. Chances are, if you had tried to call on my husband and ride along in his combine I wouldn’t have known about it. Most likely I would have been on a different farm, with a different farmer, trying to do my job in the same way you are doing yours.
I didn’t think of you before – but now I will. Last night I read a post from a woman who was upset that a young, presumably attractive female, made a sales call to the farm – and rode in the cab of the combine with the farmer (the poster's husband).
For anyone not in the industry, it may sound funny that you would get into a combine with a customer. This time of year, the combine often acts as an office. People who need to see the farmer go to the field and are often invited to ride along while they keep working. Roughly 70% of the time that farmer will be a man.
Women poured out of the woodwork to attack the sales rep, calling her unprofessional, unthoughtful, disrespectful and worse.
They attacked her clothes, suggested she not wear makeup when doing farm visits, even suggested the wife should call the company and complain.
They suggested the company send only men, they implied that a woman should not be doing this job at all. One person even commented that she was taught “a woman should never be alone with an unrelated male”.
As a Millennial, this is the first time I have encountered such a vigorous and outward attack on a woman for doing her job. To my shock it was all coming from other women. I felt like I was reading Facebook from the 1950’s.
Now, these women have a right to their feelings, I can even relate to some of them. And I understand many of these woman came about in a different generation. I hope these women stop and think about how they would feel if someone said all of those things about their daughters and granddaughters who are trying to be seen as equal in the industry.
I want you to know this. When you come to my farm, to call on my husband – you are welcome to climb right up into the cab of his combine. You are welcome to ride along, give him your sales pitch or gather your information.
If I get jealous, (and I might because I would rather be there than working) that is on ME. That is NOT on you.
If you do run into a man who cannot handle it that is on HIM, not on you. My husband will not be that man – his mother raised him fully capable of behaving like an adult.
I know when you get up in the morning you will stress over what to wear. Too dressy and you look clueless. Too casual and you look unprofessional.
I know when you set foot on the farm you’ll be nervous about the farmers taking you seriously. I know you’ll struggle with being able to connect on a personal level, while not getting too personal. You aren’t as free to joke and laugh with customers as the male competition is.
I know when you climb into the cab with my husband you are going to be nervous about getting your sales pitch right – about showing that you understand the farm and the industry.
I also know that you probably understand it better than the men in your role. I know you already had to prove yourself beyond them, to the men that you work for.
I know you are working your tail off, in an industry you love, that generally views you as less competent. I know you face challenges every single day and I want you to know – as a fellow woman I will not be another challenge for you.
I want to say thank you. Thank you for being audacious enough to get into the cab of a combine!
Thank you for paving the way for my sons’ wives, who may want to pursue a career of their own in this industry and hopefully will not have to think twice about climbing into the cab with a customer.
Thank you for reminding me that I need to embrace, support and encourage other women in this industry. And sometimes that may mean getting control of my own emotions.
Mostly, thank you for reminding us that being a farmer’s wife is no longer the only place for women in agriculture.
The Farmer’s Wife