Women In Mountain Training Conference 2022

The inaugural Women in Mountain Training Conference was held at Plas y Brenin National Outdoor Centre in North Wales on 15th-16th October 2022. The highly successful event was attended by 80 attendees plus an additional 20 workshop providers and staff.

To fulfil our aim of sharing learning from the conference with as many people as possible, several of the all-conference sessions and some of the workshops were recorded. There are also reports and presentations from many of the workshops and we encourage people of all genders to engage with this content and share it with people who want to be part of breaking the bias.

Huge thanks to the delivery team for their sessions on the day and for sharing these resources for everyone's benefit.

Why was the conference needed?

Our own data (from our Candidate Management System, powered by tahdah) indicates significant differences in the percentage of women registering, attending training and getting qualified compared with men. Over the past 8 years we have been able to compare our data with Sport England’s national survey and our own research, Your Movement Matters, into activity participation. It is clear that the percentage of women participating in each of the various mountaineering disciplines, covering everything from indoor bouldering and lowland walking to international hiking and winter climbing, is much higher than the percentage of women gaining our qualifications. This means people with our qualifications are not representative of the people they are leading, coaching and instructing.

Mountain Training’s Gender Equality Strategy 2021-2025 is our commitment to influence this disparity. It includes a strategic commitment to support the development of current and future women leaders at all stages of their leadership journey. The conference was part of the implementation of this commitment, with four aims:
  • To support women engaging with Mountain Training qualifications at all levels.
  • To provide an opportunity for women to develop knowledge networks.
  • To promote, to women, working on Mountain Training courses and taking up other positions of leadership in the sector.
  • To share the findings from the conference with our providers, sector employers and managers to help them understand the challenges women face.

Conference feedback

We asked attendees: What was the best thing about the conference?

“Being around other people who are living and working with the same challenges. I’ve never relaxed and enjoyed a conference so much ever – I could be myself.”

“The feeling of not being alone!”

“Open and shared space with plenty of opportunities to engage with one another.”

“It didn't feel like there was a hierarchy so anyone could talk to and learn from anyone else.”

“I like that everyone was there because they wanted to improve things and that was the focus.”

Women in Mountain Training data

The percentage in brackets above the orange bars shows how closely qualification representation reflects participation. For example, the percentage of people passing Lowland Leader who are female is 85% of the percentage of people who participate in rural/countryside walking; our leaders are not fully representative, but we're not too far off. However, when we compare Mountain Leader and Winter Mountain Leader figures with the people who go mountain walking and winter mountaineering respectively, we're only representing 60% and 54%.

We are seeing improvements in the data, with the last five years seeing a higher percentage of people passing being women than in the previous five years. This is noticeable for all qualifications that have existed for at least 10 years, except the Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor qualification which involves relatively few individuals and is, alongside its winter counterpart, heavily affected by the seasons and the difference a few people can make to the percentage. Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor has seen a small drop, from 12% (23 women) to 10% (16 women), whereas Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor has increased from 4% (4 women) to 15% (6 women).

Last 5 years v previous 5 years

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