Keywords: adoption, farmers, farm women, gender, conservation, social learning, gender socialisation, environment, USA
Factors that influence farm women to advocate the adoption of environmentally benign agricultural production practices
Few researchers have examined the roles and responsibilities of women in the farm enterprise or women's influence in the adoption of environmentally responsible farming practices; thus, women's role in the adoption of conservation practices has remained relatively unclear. A better understanding of women's role around the farm and in the adoption process could assist policy makers and conservation professionals who wish to impact farm-level decisions with their programs. The following study has empirically investigated midwestern women's environmental orientations and roles in the farm enterprise and household and whether these variables influence farm women to advocate the adoption of environmentally benign farming practices. The theoretical model used to guide the research was based on a combination of elements from social learning theory and gender socialisation theory. Questionnaires were distributed to farm women in Ohio and Minnesota to examine the factors that affect advocacy for environmentally responsible behaviours at the farm level. Discriminant analysis was used to test the theoretical model, which showed five variables as significant predictors of advocacy for environmentally benign agricultural practices. Although five variables were found as significant in the analysis, the measure of the strength of association between the dependent variable and the independent variables in the analysis was relatively low. Therefore, the theoretical model had limited utility for predicting which respondents would be advocates of soil and water conservation systems. Despite the limitations of the research model, future research should be conducted on farm women since the study has shown that some women are indeed influential in the process to adopt conservation production systems on their farms.