Get access

From the kitchen and the field: Gender and maize diversity in the Bajío region of Mexico


Kimberlee J. Chambers (email:


The conservation of crop genetic diversity in farmers’ fields is important for future food security. Recent research on women and biodiversity has emphasized the importance of women’s knowledge in plant domestication and biodiversity conservation. This paper presents a case study of the differences in women’s and men’s knowledge of maize landraces in four different environments in the Bajío region of Mexico. We argue that research on crop diversity and conservation needs to include both men and women farmers’ knowledge. Gendered knowledge results from men and women in a household being responsible for different tasks and sometimes for farming separate plots. In addition, as economic pressures increasingly force men to work away from their communities for extended periods, women become the primary agricultural decision-makers.