One of the potential alternate ways to try to get at a profile of what the agricultural demographics of the Atlantic provinces would look like would be via a look at the representation in Agricultural sector media. While it will not be and will never be the case that gendered populations will be mentioned at an equivalent ratio to the actual demographics of the region, they may provide a useful key to seeing how engendered the institutions (like commodity groups, various parts of government, agricultural focused businesses, etc) are. To this purpose, a short corpus was looked at and encoded.
Following the framework laid out by the Canadian Women in Literary Arts (CWILA) for their “CWILA Count” (see here for a description of their methodology, here for the origin of the survey), I would begin to go through the entirety of the main article content of the Atlantic Farm Focus of 2016. While 2016 is by no means an ideal base year, considering that the publication would be sold to DvL Publishing at the end of the summer and that the publication itself seems to have been given few resources by Trancontinental Inc. before then (seen most blatantly with the large amounts of republished content from other Transcontinental papers), this was used to try to have a point of comparison with the 2016 Census of Agriculture.
In this process, each individual name would be identified, gendered (as “male,” “female,” “group,” (largely to refer to when a couple is referred to as joint entity in the text), and “unknown.” Following this gendering (done via both in text references to the gender of an individual as well as online references), their role in agriculture as a sector was identified as well, to be able to code them as whether they are a “farmer” or not (persons involved in the primary production of agriculture or agri-foods for the lack of a more certain definition).
These results… are interesting.
While it seems to be the case that women feature at a rate much more infrequent than men, these values are not that different from the bias which seems to occur in journalism which occurs at the national level, which bias to 29% female for the full sample and 32% for Canadian (Morris, 2016). What is much more apparent is how this ratio materializes in the context of people identified as “farmers” in the text, where female farmers make up only 10% of the identified set. While this data isn’t really suited to a full statistical analysis until a larger data set is assembled (either in terms of a historical set from years past, or in comparison to its peers, like the Ontario Farmer), this does pose an interesting basis for working to evaluate the strength and current gendered nature of Nova Scotia agricultural institutions. I hope that this will be expanded on into the future.
I only came aware of Marika Morris’s “Gender of Sources used in Major Canadian Media” as I was assembling my initial research into a somewhat usable form to do preliminary analysis on. In the future, I will likely be working to adapt both the framework that Morris uses with her study and that of the CWILA Count to try to find a framework which is appropiate to this context. I will also be trying to investigate more into the background research of Morris’s study to try to determine what may or may not be appropiate in an agricultural media specific focus (to which as a whole, in a Canadian framework, there seems not to be much scholarly research done).