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Penn State Researchers Explore How Gender Affects Agriculture in Ghana
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 09/06/2023

A team of Penn State researchers recently held a workshop in Ghana, exploring how gender affects dynamics within the agriculture industry. The trip capped a multi-year effort to better understand time poverty among women peanut farmers.

The two-day workshop included training about how and why gender is considered a social construct as well as how gender norms influence agricultural production. It also introduced attendees to the concept of time poverty, a situation in which people spend so many hours each day engaged in farm work and household chores that they have little time for rest or recreation.

Leland Glenna, professor of rural sociology and science, technology and society in the College of Agricultural Sciences, and principal investigator on the project, said it was important to emphasize understanding women’s work and the lives of women for many reasons, including finding ways to reduce women’s time poverty.

“In general, many technologies that are meant to enhance agricultural productivity favor men over women,” Glenna said. “And by looking at women's time poverty in comparison to men’s, we’re better able to document disparities between genders and how we should think more critically and develop more targeted ways for reducing women’s time poverty as opposed to men’s.”

The workshop also featured speakers from the University for Development Studies and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, both in Ghana, which have also been doing work on gender and technology and gender and agricultural production.

Janelle Larson, associate professor of agricultural economics at Penn State Berks, said the workshop was well received, with many of the 45 attendees saying they had learned new things about gender roles and the importance of shared household labor.

“Some of them had a lot of experience working with gender and understood and appreciated why it was important,” Larson said. “Meanwhile, the subject was new for others, who may not have realized how technologies might have different implications for different people in the household.”

According to Glenna, “sauce” crops such as peanuts are traditionally produced by women, while “starch” crops like rice are typically produced by men, which gives the growing of these different crops a gendered component.


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