Women of the twenty-first century continue to break old patterns and norms. As Cooperative Extension nears its century mark in the United States, women are carving a niche as agricultural agents. The purpose of this study was to describe unique challenges regarding personal lives and barriers unique to female agricultural agents in the United States. The study also investigated existing mentoring and support systems. A mail questionnaire was sent to a census of 488 women in 49 states. A final response rate of 79% was achieved. Most frequently cited barriers associated with job role were acceptance by male peers and clientele and differential treatment due to gender. Overall barriers perceived by women in extension were categorized as stereotypical roles, gender biases, and balancing professional and personal responsibilities. Common sacrifices noted were family and personal well-being, energy and time commitments, and money. While women notably value encouragement and support from other women in the profession, many also indicated they had been discouraged by others when they considered their career path. While overall, respondents were satisfied with their job and career path, many were still hesitant about whether they would do it again. Encouragement of others to follow in the same path was frequently qualified by stating concerns and barriers previously identified.

Keywords: Women, cooperative extension appointment, gender, equity, minorities


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