BREAKING THE STEREOTYPE Women Who Are Defying the Odds in Agriculture

By Stephanie Metzinger I n a society where stereotypes and myths are king, tales of heroines can often be overlooked. Social norms have long dictated how women are seen in the workplace, stymying the potential for significant progress in gender equality. These perceptions perpetuate phenomena such as the “gender gap” and “glass ceiling”—the invisible barrier to professional advancement of females— and undermine the success of women. Though gender-biased practices still exist in the job market, progress is slowly but surely being made. Even Hollywood is beginning to feature female superhero

leads like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel. We are also beginning to see a similar shift in the historically male- dominated agriculture industry. “Though I’m hearing this less and less and it’s gradually going away, there have been many times where I go into meetings and people ask me if I’m someone’s wife or daughter,” said Jackie Vazquez, director of operations at Andrew & Williamson’s Sundance Berry Farm. Instead, Vazquez is breaking all of the traditional norms tied to agriculture. She did not grow up or marry into a farming family nor did she obtain a degree in agriculture. Rather, this

Salinas-native pursued a marketing degree in Chicago, and after a stint at Univision, stumbled onto a position as an assistant at Reiter Affiliated Companies. Through hard work, curiosity and excellent mentorship, Vazquez rose through the ranks and eventually graduated from filing paperwork and serving coffee to working on budgets and handling all organic compliance affairs for the company. Nine years later, she worked her way to up to director of partner operations. “I’m so thankful they took an interest in me even though I had a marketing

Loren Booth of Booth Ranches

6   Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com   MAY | JUNE 2019

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