Maybe it’s because I was raised on a farm, by a hard-working dad and an equally hard-working mom.
My mom, as a child? When given the choice of helping her mom cook or her dad farm? She always chose the farming. She could drive a tractor. She loves to get her hands dirty. Give her a burn pile, and she’s happy for hours. She seems something to be fixed? She does her best to try to fix it. Nothing was ever a “man’s job.” It was just a job to be done.
Maybe that’s why I didn’t think twice about joining FFA in high school — even though a girl hadn’t been a member of the chapter for several years. I had grown up working with and showing cattle. Being alongside my dad and my brother. It was a natural fit.
Maybe that’s why I didn’t become rattled when a coworker at one of my first jobs — a more seasoned man — said directly to me, “I knew a young girl just out of college would get hired for the job, even if she wasn’t the best one for it.” Or when in that same position, a dairy farmer said after a photo shoot and interview, “Wow. You did a good job with this story. Especially for being a girl.”
To me, it wasn’t a man’s job. It wasn’t a woman’s job. It was a job to be done by the best person for it. And those comments didn’t deter me. They just made me even more dedicated to being the best I could be.
Yes, it’s International Women’s Day. And I know not every woman has been given the same advantages as I had — with a family and community who didn’t even think about gender in relation to abilities.
But I sure hope my husband and I are able to raise our 7-year-old daughter with the same mindset. Yes, she’s a woman. But above all, she’s a person. A talented, dedicated person who can do whatever she sets her mind to be. And that’s truly what is the most important for all of us — gender be darned.