My career is complicated. I run Womenclimb and do freelance work, and my ‘day’ job, three days per week, is as a Career Adviser. Since 2001 I have worked with people, starting off working with young people at the margins of society – young offenders, non-attenders at school, pregnant girls. I’ve worked with unemployed adults, employed adults and in schools with the brightest and most motivated pupils. My job involves finding out about people’s deepest desires and their worst anxieties and helping them to unpick them, to discover their route to achieving their potential.
Now I work in a university and through my work and my attendance at the BMC’s Women’s Development Group, I’ve begun to find out more about women in non-traditional careers. What I’ve discovered is that there is a lot I don’t know. I set out to find out what I can do better to support women and girls into the outdoors industry and this post is about what I’ve discovered.
The research says:
“The biggest problems are lack of knowledge about the fields, women underestimating their own skills and the absence of role models. Even if you offer vocational training to girls, if they don’t see anyone who looks like them doing it, they are not likely to picture themselves doing it either”.
Gayle Nelson-Blomquist (2003)
So what can be done?
Men matter. Men have influence and it’s important for guys to be on board. If you’re a man or a woman, please, read on. The cumulative power of every small step cannot be underestimated. If you do just one thing from this list today, tomorrow, next week and every week of 2017, whether you’re a man or woman, together we can achieve something special. Here are some of the most practical things you can do. Make a pledge. Whatever your pledge, please leave us a comment below to tell us your pledge.
Lack of knowledge about the field
- Talk about your career (if you’re a woman) to one new girl or woman a month. For every person you speak to, put their name into a jar. On New year’s Eve in 2017 you can open the jar and see the names of everyone you’ve engaged with.
- Talk about inspirational girls or women (if you’re a man)
- Share your career story on Womenclimb by submitting an Outdoor Career Job Profile
- Record a 60-second ‘GirlsOutdoors’ video and submit to us
Underestimating their own skills
- Tell a girl or woman you believe in them and that they can do it
- Help girls and women identify their skills – observe and name the skills
- Use our skills chart (coming soon) for help naming the skills
- Encourage women in lower paid positions to train or go out into the field
- Would I say that to a man/ boy/ girl/ woman? Before you assign a label or characteristic to someone, think about what you would say if they were of the opposite gender. If it would be different, ask yourself why?
Absence of role models
- Put up pictures of women in the outdoors on your Facebook profile or where girls and women will see them. Tag women and men to share.
- Share your images of women in adventure, with us: Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please ensure you have permission for them to be used on the Womenclimb website and social media.
- If you work in the outdoors/climbing industry, use images of women, as well as men
- Champion a woman – ‘isn’t this girl/ woman amazing’, ‘you can do this too’.
- Every month share a different Women in Adventure Short Film – Films 2015 or Women in Adventure Films 2016