Diverse perspectives: gender and leadership in the outdoor education workplace
Gender roles invariably shape the styles of leadership people assume in outdoor education. This research investigates how society’s value of masculine leadership styles influence instructor and participant understandings of, and experiences in, the outdoors. Six practiced outdoor leaders were interviewed to critique their gendered experiences within the industry. While each of their stories were singular, collectively, the interwoven threads reveal marked intersectional similarities. The emergent themes observed included: breaking gender roles is a positive; leaders encourage gender incongruency; and, organisations focus on gender-balanced hiring. Interestingly, the findings, which were not overtly apparent to all participants included: female leaders feel the need to prove themselves; and, the mechanisms to better address gender fluidity in the industry are needed. The investigation also revealed unconscious bias and sexist views still prevalent in the industry. These included: the belief that women are less physically able; sexual harassment is normalized; and, working with female instructors can be more challenging. Our study raises questions about the buried dynamics of gender expectations and the undercurrents shaping both participants’ and leaders’ experiences in the outdoors. Conclusions are drawn which call for reimagining ways of moving our gendered leadership understandings and practices forward both at the coalface and during professional training.
KeywordsGender Leadership Outdoor leadership Outdoor education Intersectional
We greatly appreciate the reviewers’ and journal editor’s comments that served to strengthen ourpaper.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
- Avery, M. E., Norton, L., & Tucker, A. (2018). Blazing a trail … together: The need for mentoring and collaboration among women in outdoor leadership. In T. Gray & D. Mitten (Eds.), The Palgrave international handbook of women and outdoor learning (pp. 801–813). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Bell, M. (1996). Feminists challenging assumptions about outdoor leadership. In K. Warren (Ed.), Women's voices in experiential education (pp. 141–156). Dubuque: Kendall Hunt.Google Scholar
- Bell, M., Cosgriff, M., Lynch, P., & Zink, R. (2018). Nourishing terrains? Troubling terrains? Women’s outdoor work in Aotearoa New Zealand. In T. Gray & D. Mitten (Eds.), The Palgrave international handbook of women and outdoor learning (pp. 199–216). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Blankenship, D. (2010). Applied research and evaluation methods in recreation. Champaign: Human Kinetics.Google Scholar
- Butler, J. (1993). Bodies that matter: On the discursive limits of “sex”. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW). (n.d.). Intersectional feminist frameworks: A primer. In M. Hobbs & C. Rice (Eds.), Gender and women’s studies in Canada: Critical terrain (pp. 38–42). Toronto: Women’s Press.Google Scholar
- Creswell, J., & Poth, C. N. (2016). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches (4th ed.). Los Angeles: Sage Publishing.Google Scholar
- Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2018). The Sage handbook of qualitative research (5th ed.). Los Angeles: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- DePoy, E., & Gitlin, L. (1993). Introduction to research: Multiple strategies for health and human services. St. Louis: Mosby.Google Scholar
- Ferrao, V. (2010). Paid work. Women in Canada: A gender-based statistical report. (6th ed.). Statistics Canada. Catalogue 89-503X.Google Scholar
- Gillard, A., Buzuvis, E. E., & Bialeschki, M. D. (2014). Supporting transgender and gender nonconforming youth at summer camp. Journal of Park & Recreation Administration, 32(3), 92–105 Retrieved from https://js.sagamorepub.com/jpra/article/view/3635?fbclid=IwAR0ZGCIKDxep8UusC4jsBKFyXTSFwuUXRmCzIO1VHPePXzk3l-US8VA4Hso.Google Scholar
- Gillham, B. (2000). Case study research methods. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
- Henderson, K. (1991). Dimensions of choice: A qualitative approach to recreation, parks and leisure research. State College: Venture Publishing, Inc.Google Scholar
- Henderson, K. (1996). Feminist perspectives on outdoor leadership. In K. Warren (Ed.), Women’s voices in experiential education (pp. 107–117). Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.Google Scholar
- Lorber, J. (2012). Gender inequality: Feminist theories and politics (5th ed). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Lougheed, B. (2016). Cool things in the collection: The Two-Spirited collection. Manitoba History, 80, 59–61 x Retrieved from https://www.digitaltransgenderarchive.net/downloads/w3763689t.Google Scholar
- May, T. (1993). Social research: Issues, methods and processes. Buckingham. England: Open University Press.Google Scholar
- Merleau-Ponty, M. (1962). The phenomenology of perception. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
- Oakley, J., Potter, S., & Socha, T. (2018). In T. Gray & D. Mitten (Eds.), The Palgrave International Handbook of Women and Outdoor Learning Mirrored tensions: A mother-daughter introspection on gendered experience in outdoor recreation (pp. 375–390). London: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Olesen, V. (2011). Feminist qualitative research in the millennium’s first decade. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of qualitative research (pp. 129–146). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.Google Scholar
- Silverman, D. (2017). Doing qualitative research: A practical handbook (5th ed.). Los Angles: Thousand Oaks, Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- van Manen, M. (2016). Researching lived experience: Human science for an action sensitive pedagogy (2nd ed). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Wall, K. (2018). Autoethnography, feminisms and the outdoor industry: A theoretical approach to practice (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from https://libres.uncg.edu/ir/asu/f/Wall_Katie_2018_Dissertation.pdf Google Scholar
- Warren, K., Risinger, S., & Loeffler, T. A. (2018). Challenges faced by women outdoor leaders. In T. Gray & D. Mitten (Eds.), The Palgrave international handbook of women and outdoor learning environments (pp. 247–258). London: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-53,550-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar