Graduate Assistant working with SANREM researches gender roles

Keri Agriesti, a Virginia Tech graduate student in geography from Bucyrus, Ohio, is studying the connection men and women who farm in Bolivia have with the soil. Agriesti works under Maria Elisa Christie, program director of Women in International Development. The work is a part of a gender component of the Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Collaborative Research Support Program, managed by Virginia Tech.

Agriesti spent two months in Sank’ayani Alto, Bolivia, where she worked with a nonprofit organization, the Foundation for the Promotion and Research of Andean Products, to complete her research. Before she was allowed to interview any farmers, she attended a few community meetings, where she explained her research — in Spanish, which was then translated into the local Quechua — to the farmers. She then received permission from them to live and work in their community.

Agriesti said she hopes her research shows the importance of talking to both men and women about their spaces, knowledge, and roles in agriculture in the community. She also wants other researchers to use her work to design agricultural practices that are good for the environment and benefit men and women equitably.

"I want my research to show how local voices — from both men and women — provide a fuller, more detailed picture in understanding local knowledge, needs, and livelihoods," she said.

This story is an excerpt from a longer article published in Virginia Tech's Spotlight on Impact news site. To read the full story, visit "Graduate student researches gender roles in Bolivian Andes."