Every so often something pops up in my life, and when it reaches critical mass I feel compelled to write about it. This is one of those things. Thanks to Upworthy, I've been seeing a lot more social justice-related things in my FB feed, in particular, videos and articles about women. 

As a climber and general lover of all things outdoors, and as an adventure therapist, I'm interested in both women's experience in the outdoors and in women in outdoor leadership positions. The videos in this article reminded me that as a society we still have a long way to go...

You mean men and women have different experiences?
     Yep. And not just in the outdoors.

This funny, but super sad, article from The Onion puts the differences between men and women into very black and white biological terms, and lists some of the social issues those differences have creates. It was meant to be a joke, but hits hard as you read and realize how serious the consequences are of simply being born female. It means your life will be different than the other half of the population in very specific ways, and it will have nothing to do with your intelligence, skills, passion or personality.
This must also mean that men and women in leadership roles have different experiences, right?
     Now you are getting it!

This first video sums up the results of a gender study done on women in corporate leadership positions. The second video is a discussion of the study results.  
I grew up ignorant of these differences in perception. It isn't that I didn't experience them, I just didn't understand what I was experiencing. Now as a grown up (sort of), I've found that this kind of discrimination happens on a daily basis. It is noticeably present in my role at work, where often I conduct training sessions or manage diverse groups of people. I constantly feel the pressure of wanting to be seen as "nice," versus wanting to get the job done—two things that shouldn't need to be in conflict.  
Women in outdoor leadership roles experience the same thing, and I would argue, in a higher degree. The wilderness, like business, has historically been a "boys club." So with increasing numbers of women taking their involvement in the outdoors to the next level, it is becoming more and more important to understand the differences between men and women, how they treat each other (and themselves—women can be just as hard on other women), and how that influences things like equality, mental health, physical health and the potential to live a fulfilling life. Not only are we dealing with a topic that has only lately come into scholarly study, but one that has roots in biology, psychology and sociology. 

I wrote about this a little bit before, and as my experience increases, I feel the need to write again. In a conversation I had the pleasure of overhearing, the head scientist where I work shared her experience as a woman in science. Her suggestion to her student was to talk about the problem—that men and women are seen differently—and to keep having that conversation until we as a society have found a way to correct it. 

I plan on writing one or two more posts about this subject, sharing some interesting research that I have found regarding women in the outdoors as well as conversations I've had with women in the outdoor industry. I'd love your thoughts, as well as articles or videos you've seen on the subject to include, so please leave comments below!
In the meantime, you can see where you fall on the Attitudes Toward Women Scale. 


12/11/2013 04:20

True. Very true. It's almost a catch 22 for me. I try not to think about too much, so I'm not making a big deal out of something....but at the same time needs to be tackled head on. We wouldn't be where we are if it weren't for women stepping up and knocking down stereotypes, right? Looking forward to more posts.


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