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According to recent research released by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), the adventure travel industry has made better progress than other industries in regard to gender equality. Women are more likely to be represented on boards and, in general, women feel they are treated equally in comparison to male colleagues.
But there is still work to be done, and, increasingly, women are being empowered to take an active role as the industry evolves into one where everyone is on a level playing field and gender equality is the norm, not the exception.
Following this year’s Adventure Travel World Summit in Salta, Argentina, women in the industry are invited to a day-long workshop on 20 October designed to address gender-specific challenges and obstacles in adventure travel. Delegates at the Adventure Women Leadership Studio will discuss industry-wide issues, reflect on their professional situations, and walk away with specific tools, plans, and strategies they can utilize once back in the workplace.
Women’s Roles in Adventure Travel
“The landscape of adventure travel continues its rapid growth trajectory globally, with new customers and new companies emerging weekly,” said Moe Carrick, facilitator of the Studio. “This growth presents opportunities for women leaders in organizations of all types to expand their influence and capacity. It is an unprecedented opportunity within the industry to address the unique needs and challenges facing women in the industry — by men and women — together.”
Carrick is principal and founder of Moementum, Inc., a consulting firm dedicated to the vision of creating a world that works for everyone using business as a force for good. She has worked in the outdoor education arena for many years and with a number of clients on topics related to diversity, culture, and team engagement in the workplace. Her recently published book, Fit Matters: How to Love Your Job, focuses on six elements people should examine in determining the ideal work fit.
Though gender equity in the workplace requires effort on behalf of both men and women, this day-long event is only for women, who are often caught in a double bind when they hold leadership positions. Business culture often applauds men for attributes like decisiveness and assertiveness, but when these same traits are exhibited by women, they’re more likely to be told to “smile more” and “soften up,” Carrick said. “I believe that by elevating their understanding of the unconscious bias that exists for them, women can navigate their own authentic ‘voice’ without alienating the very partners with whom they must work.”
One-off sessions at industry events are a great way to arouse interest or spark inspiration in regard to gender equity, but the Studio allows for much deeper exploration into the issue while also giving women an opportunity to network with other leaders in adventure travel. “The day-long format allows for immersion into content deeply as well as small group interactions for people to get insight, feedback, and ideas from others in the industry to elevate their best practices and their own leadership development,” Carrick said. “Rather than simply dipping a toe into the unique dynamics and opportunities facing women in the field, the day-long format will allow for moving beyond knowledge into insight, application, and practical next steps.”
The day will not consist of hours of lectures but rather it will encompass several styles of learning — large group activities, small group conversations, interactive and experiential tasks, and time for personal reflection and goal setting.
To start the Studio, delegates will discuss the current situation in the industry and think about what women want the industry to look like in the future. Carrick will introduce tools women can use to support their leadership roles in a give-and-take of facilitator content and delegate reflection. “It’s not my style to lecture at but to interact with,” she said. “I want to help people apply those concepts to their own practice.” Armed with these new tools and strategies, delegates will be encouraged to take a long look at their unique professional challenges.
Nearly two hours of the afternoon is set aside for an immersion in developmental coaching, a specific, applicable strategy women can use to help each other and people they’re leading. “It’s a way to facilitate learning without just providing answers,” Carrick said. To close out the day, the entire group will reconvene to revisit their position in the industry and how they’ll take the next steps as leaders.
Application Beyond the Studio
“I hope that women leave the day together feeling connected and hopeful about their leadership trajectory, as well as the collaborative opportunities to tackle equity across gender in adventure travel,” Carrick said. Though this is a women-only event, there will be opportunities in the Studio to discuss how to invite male colleagues and partners to explore their own contributions to gender dynamics at work. Delegates will also be armed with information about why diversity and inclusion is good for both men and women that they can then share with their professional teams.
“Specifically, each person will leave the day with an action plan for how they will engage in difficult conversations, exercise their unique leadership voice, discover ways to speak to the benefits to men and to results in diversity work, and identify strategies for cultivating strong female leaders in their organization,” she said.