Outdoor Insider Fall 2017 - Page 9

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who have never thought that there are companies that need their skills and expertise in order to develop the next iteration of hiking boots. You can say to a participant, “I know you’re in engineering, and I know you love to climb. Did you know that Black Diamond and Petzl are great places to work?” There are entire industries where their skills and talents could be leveraged to contribute to their passion. Sometimes the focus is on going into the parks service or wilderness training, and less on accountants, engineers, and designers—who are also who our industries need to drive them forward.

What about welcoming more women to the outdoor space in general?

Leaders need a firm understanding or acknowledgement of the influence that they have—not only on the future of the outdoors and who it’s accessible to but also the future of outdoor industries. This means making a concerted effort when people show up—all people—to make sure the first experience is welcoming and arms-wide-open. We can make sure new participants understand that there is a community from day one, and we can acknowledge that it might be intimidating if a person looks around and doesn’t see a lot of people who look like themselves.

One tangible, and proven, tactic is to host women-specific skills classes that create a space for women to learn from and ask questions of other women. Research shows that women are often socialized to learn differently than men. Understanding that there are many ways that people learn allows leaders the opportunity to make outdoor experiences as welcoming as possible and to meet people where they are for as long as possible—that will probably be one of the biggest success factors in bringing more diversity to those programs and to the outdoors.

—Interview by Allison Torres Burtka