Women in the Outdoor Industry...

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.

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Exploring and adventuring was once the privilege and peorgative of men. That has changed. Which is good.

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 equal. 

Why then is there still a big difference in the number of women in the outdoor industry compared to men? Studies show that women only make up 20 - 30% of outdoor professionals.

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Poor Representation

The outdoor industry is full of images and stories of men immersing themselves in wilderness, great landscapes and epic Adventures. 

Men are captured in stories, photos and film 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 majority of people writing reviews, guides, information, creating a narrative, are men. 

If women are featured in imagery promoting the great outdoors they sometimes appear not wearing much in the way of clothing or have photos taken form angles that focus on their bottom. 

It doesn’t matter whether they are surfing or climbing, woman are 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?

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Clothing and Equipment

The next time you go shopping for outdoor clothing have a look at what is available for women and men. 

I't can be hard to find quality equipment and clothing for women that isn't pink, turquoise or baby blue . 

Lots of wetsuit manufacturers simply don't sell top spec suits in women's sizes.

As far as we can tell the variety/ choice  of technical jackets for women is about a third of the choice in mens sizes and designs.

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A Lack of Female Focused Courses 

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 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.

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.

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Women in the Great Outdoors…

Times are changing and there couldn’t be a better time for women to get involved in the outdoor industry. 

Athletes, businesswomen, hobbyists or adventurers, women everywhere are determined to push boundaries. 

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

Land &  Wave offers everything you need for an amazing outdoor experience. From bushcraft, coasteering, paddle boarding to sea kayaking and loads more, get in touch to book your next adventure.

by Owen Senior

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