by Ellie Fuller
‘Women’ (noun): anyone who identifies as a woman including individuals outside of the gender binaries.
Women’s Trad Festival has men in attendance. Generally, these men are leaders, core volunteers and brand representatives. We strongly feel that this is important when working towards an equal and inclusive society. Feedback from both the participants who learn with us and the men who come to the festival has always been incredibly positive.
Over the years, we’ve sometimes been asked why. ‘Do you get enough female leaders?’ Actually we do! Instead, we have a number of reasons for this choice and we wanted to share them. We are so vocal in our appreciation of all the wonderful women we work with, it’s time we gave some attention to the men!
1. Fundamental to all that we do is inclusivity. We welcome people of any gender, with the aim of being inclusive also of trans and non-binary folks. Having men there too is part of our wide inclusive ethos.
2. 7% of MIA/MCI are female*. We want to increase this. So intentionally inverting this ratio, 10% of our leaders are male. Representation at outdoor crags is still not 50:50. As well as being symbolic, this allows a glimpse of what other genders experience the rest of the time!
*Generalized and binary as the data doesn’t include non-binary percentages.
3. Our male leaders are typically professional instructors seeking to enhance their practice and become better instructors for female and non-binary individuals clients. They often say they feel inspired by the other women and non-binary leaders, the supportive and fun atmosphere, and come away better able to understand the needs of their non-male clients.
4. Since in general men far outweigh women instructors in the outdoor industry, many girls, women and non-binary people may only be exposed to male role models when learning trad. While we are working to change this, this is the current situation. Therefore, we believe that rather than excluding men, it is far better to work together, so they can feel inspired, empowered and want to support future female and non-binary leaders they may instruct along their journey.
5. Men want to help out! To turn them away is to discount and disregard a genuine desire to help create positive change. We strongly believe that everyone needs to be on board, and we all need to play a part for real change to happen when working towards gender equity. Men can and do act as allies and advocates for women and other genders in climbing, within the instructing and outdoor industry, something that should be welcomed and not be disregarded.
Ultimately, Women’s Trad Festival is women-focused space, not women only - and men are absolutely welcomed to be part of supporting and creating that. We really value and appreciate the support of the male core volunteers, leaders and brand representatives. We are very grateful to the men we have had the pleasure of working with. They have consistently shown up with a genuine desire to help and support what is already existing, shown utmost respect to us and all the individuals they have interacted with and expressed their admiration for what Women’s Trad Festival is.
Being able to witness what a female-focused space can feel like, can be a hugely eye-opening and inspiring experience and we are glad to give everyone at the festival the opportunity take that experience away into their lives and ripple it out.