Sheep, shadows and silly saints: Constructions of women in leadership in Australian agriculture

Sheep, shadows and silly saints: Constructions of women in leadership in Australian agriculture Journal Article

Rural Society

  • Author(s): Pini, B.
  • Published: 2003
  • Volume: 13

Abstract: In recent years a considerable Australian literature has emerged on the subject of farm women's leadership. This paper addresses three questions in relation to this literature. The first is, how has the literature represented farm women? The second is, what assumptions about gender and leadership are inherent in this particular representation of farm women and leadership? The third is, what does this way of writing and talking about farm women and leadership mean for changing inequities in the agricultural sector? In addressing the first question, I argue that the dominant representation of women in agricultural leadership in the literature is one that presents women as being interested in different spheres of leadership and as having different skills for leadership. This way of conceptualizing the subject of farm women and leadership is, I argue, in terms of the second question, one which assumes that women and men constitute unitary, fixed categories and that leadership is a known, unambiguous and ungendered concept. Given the consequences of these assumptions, my response to the third question is to argue that a discourse of difference offers little in terms of addressing unequal power relations in the agricultural sector. This is because the discourse ignores differences between women, obscures men who are marginalized in the agricultural sector, leaves unquestioned the conflation between masculinity and leadership, reinforces stereotypical assumptions about women and perpetuates the representation of men as leaders as the agricultural norm.

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Suggested Citation
Pini, B., 2003, Sheep, shadows and silly saints: Constructions of women in leadership in Australian agriculture, Volume:13, Journal Article, viewed 13 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=4131.

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