There is no such thing as a typical ‘Woman in Adventure’ – we are all unique.
The outdoors community is vibrant, and we often look to each other for inspiration. We recognise that in seeking role models we can relate to, it is important for us as women to spend time with, and be inspired by, other women. We all have different goals, priorities, and concerns. What is important to one woman is not important to another. Understanding more is the first step to providing whatever it is we need.
Launched in 2016, this survey aimed to understand more about the diverse group of people known as ‘Women in Adventure’. This gathered the views of a representative sample of women asking them to tell us who and what inspires them, and what issues were important to them in their adventures outdoors.
As a starting point, we wanted to understand what this might mean in practice – not just based on our own experience, but on the experience of as broad a range of women as possible.
The aims of this survey was to find out what inspires women in adventure so that we can share more of it; identify anything that makes it more difficult for women to get involved in outdoors adventure so that we can work on ways to address it; and to create a network to share inspiration, information, and ideas.
This survey was intended to gather the views of a representative sample of women that participate in outdoors adventure. This is a brief summary to give a flavour of who responded and an overview of our findings.
We received responses from more than 400 women (and one man!) from 24 countries, who participate in over 35 outdoors activities. The majority were based in the UK, then the USA.
Out of all the sports represented, the most popular were hiking, mountain and road biking, trail and road running, and climbing. 85% of the women that responded joined our network and want to stay involved in our work.
The overriding message is that being a woman is not an issue! Women clearly told us that they would like to be viewed as equals, not as a minority, and that coverage should focus on achievement, not gender. Although our survey was mainly completed by women, our project is not exclusively for women – the aim is an inclusive community with equal representation.
There were, however, some issues common to the women that completed the survey. Our analysis shows that the main points are outlined below.
Role models and representation are important – women would like to see a wider variety of female role models that they can relate to, and stories that focus less on the goal and more on the experience. They especially want to see representation of women of all ages, ethnicities, level of experience, and backgrounds.
The main barriers women told us about are practical – time, money and work. They would like to manage a life/adventure balance and want solutions and more examples that show how others achieve it.
3. Important issues
When asked what issues were important to them, women described the support that they would benefit from. Speaking from a wide range of experience, the support they described was different for those at beginner and entry-level, intermediate, and advanced to elite level.
4. Positive change
When asked about the change that they would like to see, many women were positive and clear that they see things moving in the right direction. They repeated the message that they would like greater visibility of women and a wider range of role models. There was also a strong sense of frustration about the limited range and functionality of women’s gear.
5. Our stories
We asked if there was anything else to say. So many women are already out there living their adventures and wanted to tell us what that means to them. Their passion came across in the exciting, inspiring, and touching stories and comments submitted.