Highlighting Women in Agriculture

Women are a force in agriculture, whether it's breeding new plants and animals or tending orchards, livestock, and fields.

Currently, women comprise about 43 percent of the agricultural labor pool in developing nations, and they're continuing to advance in the agricultural sciences.

In recognition of their valuable contributions, the Cornell Alliance for Science will regularly showcase the stories of outstanding scientists and farmers who also happen to be women.


Women in Agriculture Profiles

Makida Mohammed, Ethiopian Farmer

Like many single mothers, sole breadwinners, and farmers, Makida Mohammed has a very busy life. "When I come back after cultivating my land, I take the cattle to the compound, tie it up with rope, and have my dinner. After that I go to the river and fetch water and come back. When it is night I eat my dinner and sleep. I have only night time for my household duties." Read More

Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, University of California, Davis

"We seem to adopt technology in all aspects of our life, but there's a hesitation when it comes to agriculture," says Dr. Alison Van Eeneenaam, Cooperative Extension Specialist in Animal Genomics and Biotechnology at the University of California-Davis. "To me, it's the area where we should most be applying technology, to try to advance our capability to provide sufficient food for the people of Earth, while minimizing our impact on the environment." Read More

Dr. Jennifer Thomson on the Role of Women in Science

Dr. Jennifer Thomson, University of Cape Town "It is well known that 'women's crops' feed families while 'male's' crops make more money," says Jennifer Thomson, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. "More involvement of women in agricultural research could help bring food security to developing countries." Read More

Dr. Susan Miyasaka, University of Hawaii

"It’s not easy for a scientist to appear in a political arena," says Dr. Susan Miyasaka, an Agronomist at the University of Hawaii's Komohana Research and Extension Service in Hilo. "But I felt that I had to provide the scientific facts. So now they’re out there, whether they choose to believe them or not." Read More

Michelle Miller, Iowa farmer

"It's important to talk to farmers, not Google," says "Farm Babe" Michelle Miller. She and Iowa farmer Doug Sass discuss her transition from city girl to farmer and her efforts to promote a direct dialogue between farmers and the public. Watch Video

Lydia Garas, University of California, Davis

Lydia Garas, a PhD candidate and student of Dr. Elizabeth Maga, joins Dr. James Murray, a Professor in Animal Science at UC-Davis, in discussing their transgenic goat milk research, which holds promise for treating diarrheal infections and inflammatory bowel disease. Watch Video

Pamela Ronald, University of California, Davis

"We're all trying to figure out how to farm more ecologically," says Pam Ronald, a Plant Pathologist and Geneticist who has her own lab at the University of California, Davis.

"I think the polarization portrayed in the media about genetic engineering and organic farming is false. The media love to play up all kinds of fierce food fights. But it's not the reality on the farm." Read More

Dr. Sampa Das, Division of Plant Biology, Bose Institute, India

Dr. Sampa Das, Bose Institute, India Biotechnology has met political resistance in India and elsewhere, largely because the general public is "not much aware of the intricacies of the technology," says Dr. Sampa Das, a Researcher in the Division of Plant Biology at the Bose Institute in Kolkata, India.Read More

Caixia Gao: Crop engineer in China

Plant biologist Caixia Gao was initially reluctant to take up gene editing using CRISPR–Cas9 — the technique that is sweeping through biology laboratories around the world. Her lab had already made mutations in 82 genes using an older technology, and the thought of switching to something new was daunting. “At first I felt some resistance,” Gao says. “And then we decided: well anyway, we have to try.” Read More

Powerful Perspectives

Four women's views on modern agriculture; Hillary Clinton, Matia Chowdhury, Anne Glover, and Lucy Jumeyi Ogbad speak about modern biotechnology. See More

Jayne Raper: Research to make disease resistant cattle in Africa

Parasitologist, Jayne Raper seeks to reduce poverty through a genetic solution to sleeping sickness in cattle. Watch Video

Regina Mwashilemo: A Tanzania farmer

Regina Mwashilemo, a crop and livestock farmer in Veyula village, Dodoma, Tanzania, supports five children and two grandchildren on just a few acres of land. “To be honest the land is owned by the man for the most part,” she says. Read More

Pamela Paparu, Breeding better beans with biotechnology

Pamela Paparu explains her PEARL research to produce a root rot-resistant variety of the common beans that are an important subsistence crop in East Africa, and shares her experiences as a woman engaged in science in Uganda. Watch Video

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