I often find that when I’m in a mixed group, there seems to be an assumption that (usually older) men will lead it, often regardless of experience, knowledge or ability. I feel that if women put themselves ‘out there’ it can feel risky, as if a man makes a mistake that general assumption of entitlement to lead means it is generally seen as just that, a mistake. However, if a woman makes a similar error, it can be seen as incompetence.
Of course, this isn’t always the case, and I don’t have an easy answer for when it is, but I do encourage both men and women reading this to perhaps question how they go about things. There is a wide range of courses available for women who might like to lead activities but currently lack confidence and indeed women-only groups that might appeal to some.
I started mountaineering at an older age than I’d guess is average and was surprised of what I was actually capable of. That openness to pushing yourself and supporting others to do likewise is invaluable, whether in terms of leadership or just getting more out of what you’re doing.