Home Institution

Brandeis University

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Program Name

Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender


My research asks: what are the lived experiences of female farmers within the hegemonic construction of the Dutch farmer and how have their roles shifted through time? Popular culture has implanted stereotypes that most female farmers are uneducated, low-class individuals but the six women whom I interviewed present life stories that complicate this. How did these women come into their roles as farmers? Once they became such entrepreneurs, what were their challenges in a potentially male-dominated profession? While there has been extensive research on rural women’s historical roles in farming, I analyze the personal experiences of a small sample of women farmers in the Netherlands. They discuss their inspiration, challenges, successes and innate passion within farming. Farming is considered a lifestyle by most of the women. There is not a defined line between work and home and thus the arduous nature of the job does not easily permit the woman to be a sole proprietor and active mother. These women’s stories complicate Sherry Ortner’s theory of women as closer to nature and men as closer to culture. The only drastic conclusion that can be made from these few narratives is that every female farmer will have her own story to tell.


Agriculture | Family, Life Course, and Society | Gender and Sexuality | Inequality and Stratification | Rural Sociology | Women's Studies


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