Why aren’t there more women in the outdoor and adventure industry?
The outdoor industry has always been dominated by men. Traditionally, rightly or wrongly, it was men once went out exploring the great outdoors, while women stayed behind to look after the home and children. Fortunately, this rather antiquated model has started to change and loads more women are choosing to throw themselves into outdoor activities, exploration and adventures; refusing to allow themselves to be held back by tradition or stereotypes. These days most women in developed society’s and cultures don’t feel confined, restricted or limited; the career opportunities available to them are absolutely equal. Why then is there still a noticeable difference in the number of women in the outdoor industry compared to men?
The outdoor industry is full of images and stories of men immersing themselves in wilderness, great landscapes and epic Adventures. Men are described, captured in photos and filmed exploring new routes, demonstrating techniques, and testing the latest equipment – it seems to be a man’s world. There are many women out there with a huge amount of experience and expertise in the outdoors, but still the vast majority of those writing reviews, guides, information - creating a narrative are men. If women are featured in imagery promoting the great outdoors and an adventure lifestyle they, appallingly, often appear not wearing much in the way of clothing. It doesn’t matter whether they are surfing or climbing, woman are most often portrayed as they are in most other mainstream media; young, thin and mostly naked wherever possible.
How can this the case when every women that we speak to wants to hear about real women, doing amazing things, getting their hands dirty and having epic adventures.
Clothing and Equipment
The next time you go shopping for outdoor clothing and equipment, compare what is available for women and men. A larger proportion is targeted at men, there is no doubt about it. Now we don’t mean that a knife should have a sparkly pink handle, but it can be hard to find quality equipment and clothing that fits a woman’s size. A lot of the options seem to be either designed to fit a man, or if it is suitable for a woman then it’s likely to be pink. Or purple. Or baby blue. It may be surprising for manufacturers to learn, but not all women like pinks and purples or, even more surprising, that some women don’t choose technical equipment based on how pretty it is…
More brands need to look at offering a range of equipment and clothing that not only fit women, they can also relate to.
A Lack of Female Focused Courses
Yes, women want to be treated equally and they want to be able to take part in all outdoor activities. Sometimes it can be dull and uninspiring to be the only woman in a group learning and training. The risk of being patronised, of being talked down to or ‘looked after’ is very real as a female learner within a group of male trainees being taught by a male coach. Many more men in a group can leave some women feeling uneasy, especially if out on a long trip or expedition, some women feel they have to ‘play up’ to be somehow laddish to fit in. It seems apparent that some women may also be put off signing up to outdoor training courses because they are uncomfortable or frustrated with having a male instructors or coaches all of the time.
An increasing number of companies like Land & Wave employ lots of female instructors to run their activities and can take female only, male or mixed groups, depending on what best suits the individual or group.
Women in the Great Outdoors…
Times are changing (thankfully) and there couldn’t be a better time for women to get involved in the outdoor industry. For athletes, businesswomen, hobbyists or adventurers, women everywhere are determined to push the boundaries. Ultimately the industry should work harder at encouraging women to get involved recognising that the great outdoors and exploration are no longer a man’s world and women are more than tough enough for any adventure.
The awful narrative created by the main stream media isn’t just confined to women, try this…
Go to Google images…
Google ‘Male Surfer’
Google ‘Female Surfer’
If anything the women are a little more covered up and doing a bit more actual surfing.
Perhaps we should be really concerned about how the great outdoors, adventure sports and exploring is portrayed, it might not be to late to stop large corporations, the main stream media and advertising cash ruining it completely
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