Farm Management/Agricultural Studies

Also of limited application for Forestry, Viticulture and Horticulture, Rural Development

Course: Farm Management/Agricultural Studies, Rural Development
Group of courses: Agricultural and Forestry Studies

Teaching/course objectives:

The aim is to teach students the basic theories, empirical findings and methods of rural women's and gender studies and the current approaches of the feminist agricultural studies debate with relation to the general discourses of women's and gender studies. Students should recognise the significance of the category of gender in the individual areas of their degree and question the subject content on this basis. Graduates in the "green sector" should be able to perceive and analyse the rural, forestry and agricultural sector, agricultural policy and rural societies, agricultural history, development and transformation processes of rural spaces and policy, training and research practice in agriculture, forestry, viticulture and horticulture from a gender-sensitive perspective.

Teaching content/subject-specific gender studies content:

The central aim of rural women's and gender studies is to shed light on the significance of the category of gender for rural society and the agricultural sector. Whereas the initial focus was on women's situation in agriculture, studies on women in other areas of rural society, gender relations and hierarchies arose in the wake of the women's movement of the 1970s, often with an international orientation. After the countries of the South, the 1990s saw a new concentration on the former Eastern Bloc countries. Studies on men and masculinity in rural contexts are as yet few and far between. There have been sporadic critical studies (including from the gender perspective) on the dominant paradigms in agricultural science and agricultural/development/regional policy. A new focus is on questions of identity in conjunction with stereotyping and the representation of gender in images and ideas of the rural.

The teaching content of the "green sector" covers knowledge from the fields of science and technology, as well as economics and social science. Teaching is strongly practice-oriented and varies depending on the constantly fluctuating position of nutrition, agriculture and the environment in society. The increased demands for sustainable development call for a rethinking and new approaches, not only in the area of policy but also on the academic level. In view of the high level of cross- and transdisciplinary research, there is a broad range of gender-specific teaching content available, which can be structured into the areas of basic theory, empirical studies and academic and professional practice in the "green sector".

In teaching the basic theories, staff can refer to studies on the following areas:

  • Conceptions of knowledge (scientific vs. tacit knowledge, universal vs. local knowledge)
  • Division and organisation of labour in flux
  • Gender connotations of nature and culture
  • Political organisation and representation from a historical perspective
  • Spatial use and regional development, the urban/rural dichotomy from a gender-specific standpoint
  • Processes of inclusion and exclusion regarding gender-relevant aspects
  • Debates on the various paradigms of agricultural/forestry studies from the gender perspective
  • Feminist critique of science and technology and its significance for agricultural studies
  • Critique of the aims of development theory and modernisation concepts for agriculture.

One group of empirical studies refers to the rural space as a place of residence, which has been experienced and used differently by women and men over the course of the centuries. This group of studies includes work on the following questions:

  • Living and working situation, scope and identities of women and men in rural regions
  • Childhood, youth, socialisation in the countryside from a gender-specific perspective
  • Transformation of norms, values and symbolic meanings for women and men
  • Migration of women and men and its effects on rural society, social sustainability and rural space
  • Construction of gender in conjunction with the shaping, maintenance and development of rural spaces
  • Organisation and representation of rural and agricultural interests (e.g. the FAO, World Bank, ministries, agricultural associations, rural women's associations).

Another group of existing studies focuses on the use of rural resources from a gender-sensitive perspective, mainly in the area of agriculture. Work on the following subjects is suitable for teaching the significance of the category of gender:

  • Access, use and control of natural resources
  • Effects of modernisation on gendered division of labour in the production and processing of foods
  • Importance of women for subsistence production, securing food and maintaining biodiversity
  • Gender-specific food consumption
  • Feminisation of agriculture in conjunction with pluriactivity and multi-functionality
  • New technologies in agriculture and forestry and their consequences for gender relations
  • Gender and generational relations and hierarchies in farming families
  • Male and female roles in the conception and realisation of alternative forms of agriculture, viticulture and horticulture
  • Women as pioneers in the development of agriculture and agricultural studies.

A third aspect of gender studies in agriculture, viticulture and horticulture that should be addressed is studies on academic and professional practice in the "green sector".

  • On an institutional level, students can study the inclusion and exclusion of women in academic degrees, research institutions and teaching institutions. By learning about empirical findings on gender-specific access requirements, working conditions and organisational cultures, students increase their awareness of the differing effects on men and women. Students can also discuss gender mainstreaming programmes and gender assessments for universities, international organisations, ministries and administrative institutions.
  • In the biographical respect, students can analyse social background, routes to the profession/academia, career biographies, successes and failures, professional networks, and the coordination of family and working life from the gender perspective.

Forms of integration of gender studies content into the curriculum:

Essentially, gender aspects can be taken into account in all courses in agriculture, forestry, viticulture and horticulture degrees. However, many lecturers are unlikely to be able to assess or recognise the significance of the category of gender. We therefore do not assume that gender issues will be taken into account in a relevant number of degree courses in the near future.
As an interim solution, we recommend introducing gender modules/seminars on rural women's and gender studies and feminist critique of agricultural/forestry studies, and initiating relevant final theses and work placements. Collaboration with economics, history and social science departments/working groups may be useful for formal assignments.

Potential modules/seminars:

  • Introduction to rural women's and gender studies
  • Gender relations in agriculture; basic theories and empirical findings
  • Gender, biodiversity and sustainability
  • Gender, consumption and nutrition
  • The category of gender in rural development and spatial planning
  • Gender mainstreaming in conservation
  • Gender mainstreaming in agricultural and regional policy
  • Research in agricultural/forestry studies from a gender perspective.

The creation of gender-sensitive work placements in agricultural/development/food policy, research institutions and documentation centres would be a welcome addition, broadening the range of students' experience.
In addition, cooperation with other focal subjects of gender studies is conceivable. Staff should develop proposals on how rural/agricultural aspects or the urban/rural dimension can be taken into account in gender issues for other faculties of their university, e.g. in Ethnology, History, Geography, Communication Studies, Politics, Economics and Social Sciences.

Degree stage:

The above teaching content should be offered as part of compulsory courses in the second year of bachelor degrees. In the economics and social science of agriculture, viticulture and horticulture, further optional seminars can be offered in the fifth/sixth semester. We recommend that Master's degrees offer in-depth modules building on the basic content.


Farm Management, Rural Women's and Genderresearch, Agripolitics, Subsistenceproduction, Biodiversity, Agricultural Studies, Fishery Science and Aquaculture, Horticulture, Enology, Environmental Management, Agribusiness, Agricultural Economics, AgriCultural Studies, Food Security, Natural Resource Management, Environmental Protection, Agricultural Food Production, Organic Food Chain Management, Ecological Agriculture, Bioproduct Technology, Agriculture, Agrimarketing, Agrimanagement, Rural Development, Viticulture, Forestry

Curricula of related subjects

Provided by
Dr. Mathilde Schmitt
Östereichische Akademie der Wissenschaften
Institute of Mountain Research: Man and Environment