One of the UK’s leading young people’s charities is stepping up its campaign to get more women into outdoor leadership roles, to coincide with International Women’s Day this Sunday 8 March 2020.
The Outward Bound Trust works with around 25,000 young people every year to provide life-changing outdoor learning experiences, including rock climbing, canoeing and hiking. Although half of the participants on Outward Bound courses are female, the organisation says the number of positive female role models leading the activities is still significantly behind their male counterparts.
To help redress the gender imbalance, Outward Bound is recruiting for women to join its newly created Women’s Leadership Course. The ten-week course, which first ran at the end of 2019, now has funding to continue for 2020 to help inspire women and give them the confidence to take on more prominent leadership roles in the outdoors.
It’s hoped the renewed focus on women’s leadership will build on the proactive work which has already been done to increase Outward Bound’s female outdoor instructors from 20% in 2018 to the current figure of 27% in 2019.
“International Women’s Day is all about promoting equality and challenging stereotypes, so it’s the perfect time to renew our search for the female leaders and role models of the future,” says Kate O’Brien, Project Manager at The Outward Bound Trust.
“We’re starting to see a shift in attitudes, but there are still multiple factors, including gender bias, which can act as a powerful influence reducing some women’s participation and progression in the outdoor industry. The Women’s Leadership Course offers an opportunity for women to be trained by women, alongside women – something which is the norm for males in the industry.
“We’ve seen some great positive feedback from the initial group of participants, we look forward to running the next one, seeing the individuals develop and continuing to shine a spotlight on an area that the outdoor sector as a whole needs to address.”
Bryony Lewis took part in the pilot course (October-December 2019) and has since passed her Rock Climbing Instructor Award, completed her Mountain Leader Training and is planning to work for Outward Bound this summer. She believes it’s vital for women to push themselves forward and says, “The course was really empowering and the personal growth I experienced was phenomenal.
“I felt my technical ability grow which ultimately led to confidence, really feeling the qualifications I had been so intimidated by were now attainable. Outward Bound has a huge vision to help women of all ages, abilities and backgrounds believe that they are capable of achieving more than they believe possible and it feels very special to be a part of that.”
More information on the course and how to apply at: www.outwardbound.org.uk/womens-outdoor-leadership-course