“We're not trying to hate men and we're not trying to push men out. We just want an equal seat at the table," says Tarah O'Connor from Rhode Island, who makes a living being an avalanche instructor, ski and rafting guide.
Tarah shares how there are few other women in her industry – especially in the avalanche instructor space – which can present some challenges.
Tarah has experienced a few challenges that exist from old, out-dated stereotypes. More often than not, women are often more susceptible to criticism, and are still unfortunately often overlooked. Tarah elaborates, “When a male customer attends a course, he will typically turn to your male colleague, if there is one there – and assume that he is the leader. It never happens the other way around," she says.
She believes the men's doubts about how widely women can handle outdoor life stem from two things:
1. Old prejudices and gender stereotypes that are inherent in all of us.
2. The fact that they are simply not used to seeing women in leadership roles in the outdoor industry.
“They don't know it's a thing; that women now own guiding companies and achieve the highest degrees of instructor certificates,” Tarah says.
Tarah believes the only way we can inspire more women to participate in the outdoors is to get more women into leadership positions.
“[Women in leadership is so important] so that young girls can see themselves in that position, and for us to be able to advise them on how to navigate this male-dominated environment, about how to deal with it and get through it instead of giving up," Tarah says.
When Tarah was little, she missed having more like herself to share the outdoors with.
“There's an army of girls who are on their way and are going to take the world by storm. What makes me proud to be a woman in the outdoor industry is to see where we are going. We who are older and have had a few years in the industry must at some point look back and help them out," Tarah concludes.