Posted: October 16, 2023

Applications open for new women in agriculture internship program in the college

Although women make up 43% of the global agricultural workforce, the percentage of farm landholders or owners who are women is much lower at 20%, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Lack of access to land is one example of the multiple barriers female farmers face in growing their operations and contributing to global food security.

A new internship program offered through Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences will help students explore equity concerns faced by women in agriculture, and support solutions in the domestic and international agricultural workforce.

The program, which has received funding from the USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture Higher Education Challenge grant-giving program, will support summer internships for four students, according to Kathleen Sexsmith, assistant professor of rural sociology and principal investigator. She also is a faculty leader in Ag Sciences Global in the college.

The internships are open to undergraduate and master’s degree students in the college. Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

According to Sexsmith, students will be immersed in “real world” agricultural settings where they will engage directly with farmers through research or development programming. She added that the program has been developing for several years.

“Through these hands-on experiences, students will develop and refine skills in intercultural awareness, sensitivity and communication, which are needed for successful engagement with women and the increasingly diverse workforce in the U.S. agricultural sector,” she said.

The internships also will build leadership skills by cultivating independence in the work environment, and promote problem-solving skills by immersing students in agricultural communities and tasking them with supporting the efforts of organizations that address inequities.

For two to three months in Summer 2024, interns will be placed with one of four partner organizations — located in the U.S. and abroad — and assigned tasks that support research, programming or evaluation activities related to women in agriculture.

These organizations are Pennsylvania Sustainable Agriculture (Pasa), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Oxfam in Kenya, and Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) International in Kenya. Detailed descriptions of the internships and information on how to apply can be found at