A-8/14 Exclusion and inclusion of women in Norwegian agriculture: Exploring different outcomes of the ‘tractor gene’

Forty years after the Norwegian Allodial Law was amended to give firstborn girls and boys equal rights to succeed their parents as farmers, only 14 percent of Norwegian farmers are women. Gender relations on farms are still shaped by adherence to patriarchal inheritance practices and the masculine designation of the occupation ‘farmer’. This article draws on in-depth interviews to explore how Norwegian farmers' assumptions of gendered competence and the notion of a ‘good farmer’ can have different outcomes. Many farmers—both male and female—ascribe an innate interest in machinery, a metaphorical ‘tractor gene’, to boys and see girls as better at caring for animals. This set of gendered notions has complex consequences. It can be used as a rationale to exclude daughters from agriculture, as has often been observed. At the same time, farmers who hold these ideas apply and reinterpret them in ways that allow the inclusion of women. In order to question hegemonic gender power that is based on a devaluation of qualities that are constructed as feminine and the belief that specific abilities are innate, they must see competence as something that can be learned and/or value competencies regarded as feminine as useful for agriculture. Journal of Rural Studies, 34 (2014) 263-271

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