In 1999, 35 percent of students in the College of Agriculture were women. Today, there is an even split of men and women.
Along with this change, a number of women’s clubs and events have also increased in the college. The Collegiate Agri-Women, a organization dedicated to promote all aspects of agriculture, is one group dedicated to providing support to women in the field, said Donita Whitney-Bammerlin, professor of business and administration and adviser to the group.
Whitney-Bammerlin is a K-State alumna from the College of Agriculture. While she was a student, the faculty was fabulous and never treated her or women in general differently, she said. They were given the same equal opportunities as men.
“I had a very positive experience,” she said. “My daughter graduated in 2006 and her experience was positive like mine.”
When she was a student, the College of Agriculture was not evenly split between men and women as it is now, but “Everybody was good, everybody was equal, everybody was fair,” she said. Whitney-Bammerlin said she is grateful for those opportunities and wanted to return that to the next generation.
The Collegiate Agri-Women group was one of the sponsors of a conference celebrating the seventh year of supporting women in agriculture last Friday and Saturday at the Hyatt Regency in Wichita.
Members of the group engage in service and educational projects. The group takes tours to different places like flower shops, buffalo farms, and natural gashouses to learn about how things work in the industry. This semester, Agri-Women is hosting a high school symposium for young women interested in agriculture.
Another group from the college is the Collegiate CattleWomen, dedicated to reeling in young women interested in agriculture at the Annual Watermelon Feed organized by the College of Agriculture every August. Although not specific to agriculture, members of the group advocate beef consumption, said Kim Harms, graduate of K-State and active woman in the industry.
Harms has taken it upon herself to educate other people, many of whom come from a non-agriculture background, about her family ranch on a blog.
“She has inspired the women in our Collegiate CattleWomen group, making us realize that we are capable of accomplishing many things,” said Lyndi Jury, junior in animal sciences and industry and member of CattleWomen. “There are a number of ways that we can help educate others who may not be of an agriculture background and help them realize what it is that we do and our reasons for doing it.”
The shift in ratio of men and women has changed the mind-set of others.
“We got more respect from elderly men at conferences more so because our generation is involved, not because we were women,” said Kristine Clowers, junior in animal sciences and industry and a member of CattleWomen.
Whitney-Bammerlin believes the College of Agriculture is more family-oriented and that’s why there is no difference in treatment.
“Coming from a family farm, I’ve always seen women pull together with the men to help,” she said. “Working in the College of Business, it’s not always that way, but in the College of Agriculture, women are always appreciated in whatever they do, whether it’s branding cattle or doing something in the house.”