One person uttered a four-letter word, and their entire team cringed. They then called the person out on it – as “just” has become a bad four-letter word among their team.

Lee karen
Managing Editor / Progressive Dairy

It is a word that has several definitions. In the context it was said in this meeting, “just” could be defined as “simply.” Their team would just put something together. While the statement itself seemed simple, the team knew how complex the actual project would be.

They were already calculating the number of people who would need to be involved and the number of hours that would have to be dedicated to this new project. It wasn’t going to be simple or just another thing to do. It was going to be far more complex, and the use of “just” in this way made it a bad four-letter word.

Then, as I was writing the article Women: Let your voices be heard, recapping Krysta Harden’s presentation from the Advancing Women in Agriculture Conference this spring, I came across that word again.

Harden shared that after a different speaking engagement, she had been approached by a man who admitted he didn’t know she was the guest speaker when he saw her at the social prior to her presentation. He said, “I thought you were just somebody’s wife.”


Even though she happens to be somebody’s wife, Harden, who has a distinguished career in agriculture, said she is not “just” somebody’s wife.

She related that, for far too long, women have dealt with being labeled as just the farmwife. “There’s not a darn thing wrong with it. It’s quite an honour [to be a farmwife],” Harden said.

“But at the same time, so many women have been working on farms, making decisions, signing those notes at the bank, having their name on the title, having as much to lose as their male partner.” She continued, “At any other kind of business, they would be the CFO or the COO, and we call them the farmwife.”

On many farms, the woman is more than just a farmwife. She is a business partner. However, she isn’t always treated as such.

Several times I’ve come across a post on social media where a farmwoman shared how she was overlooked or dismissed by farm consultants or salespeople who phone or stop by the farm.

“Just” has another definition: behaving according to what is morally right and fair. It is just to treat farmwomen as the equal partners they are, to be open to addressing women when calling on a farm and to invite women to have a seat on producer boards.

Let’s take this four-letter word from bad to good. Let’s stop simplifying the role of women on farms and give them the credit they deserve. Let’s be just.  end mark

Karen Lee