Women Farmers and Stress

Picture of Carly Nichols, PhD

Carly Nichols, PhD

University of Iowa

Picture of Silvia Secchi

Silvia Secchi

University of Iowa

Agricultural Production Practices and Stress: A Pilot Study of Women Farmers in Iowa

Carly Nichols and Silvia Secchi were awarded funding to investigate the relationships between agricultural production practices and stress among women farm operators in Iowa. Farm stressor inventories and occupational hardiness scales have been used to assess stress among farmers, yet those measures were developed and validated in predominantly male populations. An increasing number of Iowa women are farming, so there is need to develop versions of these tools that reflect their experiences. This pilot project is using mixed methods to investigate the relationships between agricultural production practices, occupational hardiness, and farmer stress among women agricultural producers in Iowa. In doing so, this project has two principal aims:

Aim 1: Conduct interviews (n=22) with women agricultural producers and service providers to develop a farm stressor inventory and occupational hardiness scale for women farmer populations in Iowa.

Aim 2: Conduct a mixed-mode pilot survey with women producers (n= 550) that includes the newly developed farm stressor inventory and occupational hardiness scale, along with questions on demographics and production practices. Survey data will be analyzed using principal component analysis of the stressor inventory and hardiness scale to identify latent factor structure as well as structural equation modeling to refine the hypothesis that demographic and structural farm characteristics have both direct and indirect (through production practices) effects on stress, and that hardiness acts as a mediating variable.