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The Roles of Women on Wisconsin Dairy Farms at the Turn of the Century
Research Reports No. 10, November 2001
by Jennifer Vogt, Douglas Jackson-Smith, Marcia Ostrom, and Sharon Lezberg

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Women’s work has always been a mainstay of Wisconsin farm operations. And despite the rapid changes taking place in the dairy industry and in farm households, women’s work remains integral to the operation of many Wisconsin dairy farms. However, cultural images of men as farmers and women as housewives still influence the way that people perceive women’s roles on dairy farms—usually underestimating the full extent of women’s contributions. Previous literature (Whatmore 1991, Haney and Knowles 1987, Sachs 1983) has addressed these gaps. In reality, women are often involved in a variety of farm work in addition to household work. It is also increasingly common for women to work off-farm to supplement farm income and to obtain benefits like health insurance for their families. This report summarizes the results of a recent study designed to document and explore the ways that women contribute to Wisconsin’s dairy farms.

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