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Lee Pitts is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email them at

When I was in college, the animal science department was 85 percent male and 15 percent female. That same department today is at least 85 percent female. What happened to cause such a seismic shift? I believe the animal science department (formerly animal husbandry) is jam-packed with females who want to become veterinarians, and since young ladies get better grades than males do, they get accepted in far greater numbers than the men.

It’s not only colleges that have seen such a shift. Women today own ranches, make excellent pen riders and buckaroos, and I know several female brand inspectors, drug company reps, horse trainers, and professors. I know from personal experience that ladies make great ditch bank irrigators and hay balers, and there are so many female humor writers working today it’s getting harder and harder for male chauvinists pigs like myself to make a living. And yet, there are many occupations in the animal science field where women are virtually non-existent. Here’s my top ten list of professions where women are as rare as a price check in a dollar store.

10 Cow buyers- If women are going to break into this trade, they’ll have to learn to chew tobacco, cuss creatively, sneer at auctioneers, kick dogs, and drink copious amounts of whiskey. Cow buyers are famous for freezing out new buyers at auctions, not letting them buy any cows. Can you imagine what they’ll do when threatened by a female cow buyer for the first time?

9 Tallow Truck Drivers- I’ve never run into a lady tallow truck driver. Although, Buzzard Bill, the tallow man who picked up the dead ones at my place, always brought his wife along so they could enjoy some quality time together.


8 Auctioneers- I’ve yet to meet my first female purebred auctioneer or sale barn auctioneer. To the best of my knowledge, there’s never been a woman contestant in the World Champion Livestock Auctioneer Contest. Is this because men are so much better at talking real fast without saying anything?

7 Sheep Shearers- The fact that I’ve never met a female sheep shearer just proves that women are smarter than men. I sheared sheep for several years as a side business, and it’s the hardest, dirtiest, and least rewarding job I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a lot of crappy jobs.

6 Saddle Makers- I know there must be some female saddle makers out there, but I’ve never met one. When I was healthier, I used to go to leather shows where I met many wonderful female leather crafters, but I’ve never seen a woman’s name stamped on a saddle. Why?

5 Breed Field Men- These are the guys who work for breed associations to help purebred breeders with their programs. They’re often heard giving speeches before sales. I’m sure there must be a female one somewhere, but they’re as rare as a cowboy with a 401K or SEP IRA.

4 Gate Person- I’ve been to hundreds of sale barns, and I’ve yet to see a woman on the in-gate or the out-gate. In the back end of an auction barn, women frequently pen back the cattle, but for some reason, they haven’t broken through the glass ceiling to gate swinging.

3 Bulldoggers- At PRCA rodeos, the only women that compete do so in the barrel race. Wouldn’t it make rodeos far more entertaining to see women bulldogging or bull riding?

2 Ring Men- I’ve worked ring at thousands of sales, but I’ve yet to work a livestock sale with a female ring person. Ring-working women have infiltrated auto auctions and charity auctions, and I think it’s only a matter of time before we see and hear lady ring persons at cattle auctions.

1 Shepherds- Not all of the females in animal science departments are going to get accepted to vet school, so then what will they do? I hear the sheep industry desperately needs shepherds to live alone for months at a time with a border collie for company. Ladies, just think the housekeeping chores are minimal, there’s no male to pick up after, and the sheep don’t drink alcohol, argue or squander money on collectible rusty bits and old spurs. I think women may find that sheep make better company than men, and being a shepherd is preferable to getting married.