do fewer women than men participate in outdoor activities like fishing,
hunting, shooting and backpacking?
A 1990 workshop at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point,
“Breaking Down Barriers to Participation of Women in Angling and
Hunting,” examined the reasons for this disparity. Focus groups at the
workshop identified 21 barriers to participation.
Many of the reasons relate to the fact that women may not have
had an opportunity to learn outdoor skills that are necessary to the
enjoyment of outdoor activities.
The “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman” program began in 1991 as an
experiment to determine whether providing an educational opportunity
would be enough to welcome women outdoors.
That first workshop filled to capacity. It would have filled two or three times.
Since 1991, the workshop has expanded to 44 states and eight
Canadian provinces, with many states offering multiple opportunities.
Women are interested in learning outdoor skills. When the opportunity
is offered, they line up for the chance to be involved.
The name of the “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman” program comes from
an effort to create the type of atmosphere in which women learn
best—supportive and nonthreatening. Participation, however, is not
limited to women.
An Exciting Opportunity
What can a participant expect from a “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman” weekend?
workshops span a weekend, beginning at noon on Friday. The weekend will
be divided into four blocks of instruction, about three hours each.
instructional period, there will be 6-12 courses offered. The
participant registers for one choice in each time period. In each
session, there will be choices that focus on each of three areas:
shooting and hunting, fishing, and non-harvest activities. These might
include canoeing and kayaking, camping, outdoor cooking, orienteering
or survival. The teaching is focused on the needs of adult learners,
with the classes being taught in a very “hands-on” way.
Outdoors-Woman” workshops are generally held at camps or resorts. The
atmosphere is “outdoorsy” but comfortable. Participants will stay in
lodges, dormitories or cabins that may be rustic but have modern basic
amenities. Meals are provided and cooked by the camp staff. The focus
for the weekend is learning in a comfortable atmosphere.
The instructors and
staff are patient and supportive. The participants share in the success
of each group member. This is a non-competitive situation where each
individual can learn at her own pace.
Finding a Workshop in your area
The evening activities are
filled with fun and camaraderie. There may be story telling, campfire
activities, pioneer skills “round robins,” fish and game tasting
opportunities, outdoor equipment fairs or outdoor clothing fashion
shows. The emphasis is on the enjoyment that goes with the social side
of outdoor activities.
Becoming an Instructor
Workshop coordinators frequently need
qualified instructors in a variety of skills areas. They look for
individuals who are themselves skilled in the outdoors. They also look
for a supportive attitude and good teaching skills. Potential
instructors may be required to participate in an orientation session.
Contact Nancy Sisinyak if you are interested in being an instructor.
Support the CauseThe national
program is equipped and funded through a variety of cooperative
efforts. If individuals, businesses or conservation groups are
interested in helping the state or local programs, please contact Nancy
Sisinyak or Tracy Smith with ADF&G or the BOW national office to see how you can get involved.
Shaping the Future
Why is the “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman” Program important?
Learn more about “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman”
- It is important to the women who attend because they learn skills that allow them to fully enjoy the outdoor environment, while building self-confidence.
- It is important to resource management agencies
because women who attend the workshops will better understand the role
of fish and wildlife management and be more interested in the
activities of agencies.
- It is important to conservation organizations
because women who participate in “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman” become
more positive about fish and wildlife based recreations and more
interested in resources management and environmental protection.
- It is important to manufacturers and retailers because women represent the fastest growing market for outdoor equipment and clothing.
- It is important to the tourist industry because women control the majority of family decisions regarding use of leisure and vacation time.
- It is important to the future of all of us because these women will influence the ideas and activities of the coming generations.
Visit the national BOW Homepage for more information.