Get access

Capturing the Multiple and Shifting Identities of Farm Women in the Northeastern United States


  • We thank L. Moist, A. Schwartzberg, A. Stone, R. Terman, and J. Findeis for their assistance in coordinating the outreach and research efforts that made this article possible. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions. This research was supported in part by USDA NIFA grant #2009-49400-06097.


The identities of women on farms are shifting as more women enter farming and identify as farmers, as reflected by the 30 percent growth in women farmers in the U.S. census of agriculture (USDA 2009). This article draws from identity theory to develop a quantitative measure of the identities of farm women. The measure incorporates multiple roles farming women may perform and weights these roles by their salience to two farm identities, farm operator and farm partner. We use a sample of women on farms (n = 810) in the northeastern United States to assess the measures of role identity in relation to reported decision-making authority, farm tasks, and farm and individual characteristics. The findings provide a multidimensional view of farming women in the northeastern United States, a far more complex view than traditional survey research has previously captured. This research provides a measure that other researchers can use to assess the multiple and shifting identities of farming women in other sections of the United States.