The 2015 Victorian Government Inquiry into Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation overwhelmingly found that women are under-represented in leadership roles in a sector that is still predominantly male-centric and dominated ( Furthermore, recent research and collective experiences of women working in outdoor recreation/education suggests that many feel invisible, relegated, marginalised, and undervalued (Gray & Mitten, 2018). The poor representation of women in senior positions within outdoor education/recreation organisations in Australia is a real problem not only impacting women who are excluded, but also the current and future students of outdoor experiences. To be innovative, productive and truly address the projected needs of our students, requires the most diverse workforce working in truly inclusive environments.

As a recognised International Women’s Day event, The Office for Women in Sport and Recreation, partnering with The Outdoor Education Group and Australian Catholic University, ran a forum exploring how to achieve gender equity in senior leadership of outdoor recreation/education organisations in Victoria.

The forum heard from two very strong, passionate and positive women who outlined what the challenges are, what we can do to remove our unconscious bias towards the issue and how to make this a priority in our workplace. Dr Bridie O’Donnell – Director, Office for Women in Sport and Recreation – gave an update on progress toward achieving gender equality in Victoria’s sport and recreation sectors, and shared details on funding opportunities available to outdoor education/recreation organisations through the office’s Change Our Game initiatives

Renowned scholar and practitioner in this domain, Dr Denise Mitten from Prescott College, shared findings from contemporary research and provided international case studies and best practice in enabling women to succeed in senior leadership roles.

Facilitated by Dr Clare Dallat, Executive Director at The Outdoor Education Group, we also heard from an expert panel of senior leaders in the outdoor sector who shared with us their stories and views of the challenges women faced in senior leadership positions; all of them champions of change advocating for gender equity.

The forum was a great success. OEG were proud to be a part of it. We learned, discussed and planned to address a longstanding problem with a very new lens and identify some solid next steps for action.


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