13 October, 2023
The Outdoor Industry is thriving and the need for nature has never been so essential. Yet something huge is missing: the female workforce.
There’s no denying we ALL know the amazing benefits of the Great Outdoors: it’s beautiful, awe-inspiring, great for mind, body and soul and yet it’s an industry still dominated by a single gender: Men.
The lack of female representation in outdoor job space is something that’s been on the mind of Land & Wave Director, Rosie Tanne for some time:
“We’ve been delivering professional Outdoor Instructor Training courses for over 10 years, with males outnumbering females year-on-year. It’s frustrating and we wanted to do something about it.”
With modest marketing budgets, but big ideas, the outdoor company is already making headway in redressing the balance,
“Breaking the cycle starts small,” Rosie says, “We wanted to give more air-time to females in the Outdoor Industry, so we started by sponsoring the Tough Girl Challenges Podcast, which champions adventurous females in the media. A number of our female outdoor instructors were also interviewed as part of the project, highlighting why it’s such a rewarding industry to be in no matter what age or gender you are.”
Sarah Williams, host of Tough Girl Challenges podcast says,
“It’s a problem that demands attention. Alongside this gender disparity, there’s a concerning lack of representation from ethnically diverse communities within the field.”
It’s important stuff.
As part of the podcast sponsorship deal, Land & Wave and Tough Girl Challenges gifted a range of professional outdoor courses to the female listeners including a Mountain Training Lowland Leader Training courses, a RLSS National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification, Bushcraft Instructor Level 2 courses, RLSS Open Water Lifeguard courses among others.
“Providing these physical learning opportunities for women to get stuck in and acquire new skills, you open up the doors for many others to follow behind them,” says Rosie.
Podcast host, Sarah, says, “I’m really excited to see where this leads to. I do hope more women reach out to Land & Wave and get themselves booked on courses and open days.”
To bolster their campaign, Land & Wave made a deliberate move to dominate their instagram feed with female faces over the past 12 months,
“It’s such a simple gesture, but has a big impact on encouraging women and young girls that an outdoor career is achievable” the Land & Wave Director says, “If you see someone like you fulfilled in their work, you’re more likely to feel it’s within reach”
The results have already been noticeable, with Land & Wave seeing a big uptake on female participation across the board.
“We’ve already flipped the gender bias on our Outdoor Instructor Apprenticeship, with two females, one non-binary person and one male signed up for the 2023/24 apprenticeship scheme. This compares to one female and three males last year.”
Things are moving positively for females signing up to Land & Wave’s professional Outdoor Instructor Training programme too, “This winter we’re excited to be training 10 females, one non-binary person and 12 males as part of our intensive instructor training course. They’ll all be joining the Outdoor Industry as qualified instructors in March 2024. That’s the type of gender balance we’re striving for.”
For females looking to access the outdoor industry, there couldn’t be a better time.
“There are lots of fantastic fast-track courses for people looking to change careers and gain the qualifications you need to become an outdoor instructor. We want people to know that this is a career for everyone - it’s a welcoming supportive place to be,” Rosie says.
For women looking to access the outdoors without committing to a full career change, there are lots of brilliant organisations working hard to increase female participation in the outdoors.
Alice Keegan heads up The Adventure Girls Club, an organisation that supports women who want to experience the great outdoors. She provides hiking events, wild camping trips and navigation workshops for females looking to access these experiences in a supportive environment.
“It’s all about starting small and slowly building your confidence. You don’t have to launch yourself into multi-day hikes to feel the benefits of the outdoors. Start with a half an hour route from home and build from there,” says Alice.
“Spend a great day in the woods or on a hike and the positivity ripples outwards. It will have a positive impact on your mood, which will in turn transfer to your partner or your kids - everyone wins.”
The Adventure Girls and Land & Wave recently collaborated to deliver a wild camping and bushcraft experience for women in Dorset. They were joined by females of all ages and walks of life, each looking to experience something new and challenging,
“It’s such a pleasure to learn something completely new as an adult. I think we often forget the joy in experiencing new things sometimes,” Rosie says.
“The Adventure Girls collab with Land & Wave was an opportunity to try wild camping in a really supportive environment and we were so impressed that almost every woman chose to sleep in their hand-built shelters in the woods for the night - incredible!”
So what’s next for the future of the Outdoor Industry and diversity as a whole?
“Things are edging in the right direction, which is pleasing, but it takes a collective mission effort to drive change.” Rosie says.
Following the Lionesses’ Euro ‘22 win, the England football team wrote an open letter to the government calling for more school-sport opportunities for girls.
A government package was announced shortly after, to boost equal opportunities in school sport both inside and outside the classroom including £600 million of funding to be used over the next two academic years.
Today, the Youth Sport Trust published a report that found a widening gap between the proportion of boys and girls who enjoy PE lessons, with low confidence and periods being common reasons for not wanting to take part in PE. Just 59% of girls stated they enjoyed PE, compared to 84% of boys.
“It’s pretty heartbreaking to see those kind of figures come out today.” says Rosie, “Physical activity should be an absolute joy and be an opportunity for everyone to feel welcome. I really hope this government funding goes a long way into helping young girls access and find a love of sports and movement both in and outside the classroom”.
For now, we can all join the collective force pushing gender equality all the way up from playground sport through to epic outdoor adventures. Be the example. Share the female stories of adventure and spread the joy of being outdoors to the young females in your circle. I
Outside & Active is the home for those who love the outdoors. Our mission is to inspire, inform and educate people about being active outdoors in a fun, safe and sustainable way. We provide inspiration, kit, tech and advice on adventure, camping, climbing, cycling, hiking, running water and winter.
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