B.C.-based Laura Adams, Expedition Guide with Adventure Canada, Consultant and Artist.
#BalanceForBetter sends a pertinent message at a relevant time. This hashtag, the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day campaign, advocates for gender balance in the outdoor travel industry, a sector where women have been historically under-represented.
While women make up 60 to 70% of the travel industry, only 38% of board positions in the adventure sector are held by women, found a study by The Adventure Travel Trade Association. The association’s report, "Out in Front: Tracking Women’s Leadership in Adventure Travel," further revealed that there are significantly fewer female guides on average, especially in developing destinations.
It’s a deficiency that Alice Goodridge, an Adventure Coordinator with Wilderness Scotland, notices in her U.K. market.
“There is still a lot of inequality in the outdoor activity sector and International Women’s Day mean taking a closer look and seeing what can be done about it,” says Goodridge, who swam the 34-km English Channel in 2012 and completed an Ice Mile in 2018, which was a mile swimming in water less than 5 degrees Celsius without a wetsuit.
“U.K. society is 51% female. Yet we know that there are less women and girls participating in the types of outdoor activities likely to lead to the interest, skill and motivation to pursue a career in this area. I would like to see greater equality in the outdoor activity sector and a higher percentage of female guides leading walking, biking and paddling trips in the U.K.”
Despite the roadblocks, fearless females are proving that they can break down the barriers to become successful leaders, mentors and inspirations in this male-dominated sector.
Bannikin Travel & Tourism, a Toronto and Hong Kong-based travel and tourism consultancy dedicated to niche-focused tour operators, destinations and lodging providers, highlighted women making their mark in adventure travel, showing that trailblazing women like Goodridge are challenging the status quo around the globe, including right here in Canada.
B.C.-based Laura Adams is an Adventure Canada expedition guide certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and the Canadian Avalanche Association. She was also the fifth woman in Canada to become a fully certified winter Ski Guide.
If that wasn’t badass enough, in January 2019 she lead a small group expedition to Northern China to experience the ancient Tuvan mountain culture, and to ski-tour amongst the ‘Golden’ mountains of the region.
“We went during a time when China/Canada relations were tense, which added a great deal to the risk of traveling to this little-known part of the world,” she says. “We all embraced the challenges with faith and endurance, and were rewarded with a remarkable experience of awe, cooperation, trust, and unity.”
Adams says she is now focusing on increasing awareness through her career, stewardship and leadership of these special places and cultures.
Hoping to inspire and empower women, Adams mentors people who aspire to a career in the professional mountain guiding industry, and coaches women in building leadership and backcountry skills in her spare time.
“International Women’s Day calls on us to give thanks and appreciation for the women in our lives and communities who live life with courage, integrity, and grace, who don’t just accept the way things are, and who make a genuine difference in the lives of themselves and others,” she says. “It’s a day to inspire and cultivate qualities in emerging women around us who have big dreams and can make their ideas real.”
Now that’s a Wonder Woman!
Anna Kroupina Journalist
Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.