Why Women Don’t Grab The Brass Ring

brass ring

There are sharply different views of women and men in the workplace, according to findings of a major study conducted this fall by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. The study gathered data on promotions, attrition and career paths at 118 companies and surveyed nearly 30,000 men and women in the workplace.

Equal numbers of men and women say they want to be promoted; but as men’s desires for big jobs rises over their careers, only 43% of women say they want to be a top executive, according to the research. Today, women make up only 17% of people in the executive suite. The survey shows that women are 15% less likely than men to be promoted to the next level. That means at the current pace, it will be more than a century before there is gender equality in the C-suite.

The business women I know don’t lack for ambition. Women who work in a farming operations are made up of pure grit and love of the land. But rural America has the same issues with fewer women than men owning and running businesses as they do in the corporate world.

Why is this? I’m no social scientist, but much of women’s progress in rural America is cultural: for decades women worked inside the farmhouse, men worked outside. There is no wrong to this cultural pattern, but it may have precluded many daughters from coming back to the farm.

That’s not the case today. Times are changing and I see more and more young women coming back to the farm to work side-by-side with their fathers and brothers. I see women who have MBAs coming home to manage the business side of the operation. I see more women owning farms and developing diversity in ag operations: livestock subsidiaries, farmer’s market offerings, agritourism, and high-tech ideas for sustainable row crop farming.

As I always say, it takes brains to run a farm these days, not just brawn. The more women realize this about the vocation of farming, the more women will be able to grab the brass ring of ownership in agriculture.

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