Last year I stopped writing for mainstream corporate America and dove headfirst into the outdoor industry — my true love. I strongly believe that women have an important place in the outdoors, and that includes women in the outdoor industry. Early on in my path I joined the Outdoor Industry Women’s Coalition (OIWC) where I learned that only between 10% and 15% of all companies in the Outdoor Industry Association have female CEOs, and the percentage of women working in the rest of the industry lags behind as well.
Interestingly, 46% of all outdoor participants are women (study here), and they often have much more spending power than their male counterparts. The outdoor industry is slowly changing gears and beginning to market to women. With incredible women-specific ads being churned out at increased rates (Under Armour, has one of my favorites of 2014), things are moving in the right direction.
Unfortunately, things still have a ways to go. As a lady myself, I have first-hand experience of the negative portrayal of women in the wild. When I head into stores looking for equipment, I’m faced with pinks and purples, flowers and swirls, and gear that is built for men, just made smaller (pro tip: it often doesn’t fit). Sometimes when I go out to play I’m told, “you’re good for a girl.” When I look to books and magazines for inspiration, I’m met with a tiny percentage of women throwing down.
Women get wild…
… and the world is taking notice. With huge success stories like completely sold-out viewings of the all-woman movie Pretty Faces, and by-women-for-women designs becoming more and more commonplace, the world is changing. But we’re not done yet.
Encouraging young people is part of the mission.
I am so fortunate to have been exposed to the outdoors (kicking and screaming) as a young person, and then again with the incredible experiences of Bike & Build. I am impossibly grateful for the warm welcome fellow outdoor stokers have given me as I try to find my place in the outdoor industry.
Those experiences have provided me with a platform and a desire to help the next group of youngsters. Not only to get women into the wilderness, but also to teach everyone in the wild respect and inclusion. Avry and I chose GOLD/BOLD as the program to support on our thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail because it creates a safe space for all young people — regardless of economic, cultural, or gender differences — to get outside. And I bet the 11 to 18 year olds of today will teach the world that gender is not a factor in getting outside or ruling an outdoor industry boardroom.