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2nd Women’s Outdoor Summit launches next week 

Organizers aim to create space for women to discuss how to make the outdoor industry more equitable. 

When Julie Atherton started her PR company JAM Collective 20 years ago, she was one of the only female leaders in the outdoor industry at the time. Since then, gender balance in the outdoors has improved, but not nearly enough.

“The outdoor industry is very male dominant,” said Teresa Baker, founder of In Solidarity Project, and the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge. “There currently isn’t a balance.” It’s for this reason why she started the Women’s Outdoor Summit, and connected with Julie Atherton and Gale Straub, co-founder of Ravel and host of She Explores to launch the second Women’s Outdoor Summit on March 11, 2021.

Portraits of three women behind Women's Outdoor Summit
From left: Julie Atherton, Gale Straub, and Teresa Baker are the forces behind this year’s Women’s Outdoor Summit. Photo: Courtesy

The three-day virtual event featuring keynote speakers, panelists, CEOs, and workshop leaders. Over 3,800 people have registered so far. 

“We must create spaces such as the Women’s Outdoor Summit where we can gather in support of one another, where we can share ideas on how to create a more equitable space for women who work and play in the outdoors,” Baker explained.  

“Making [Women’s Outdoor Summit] happen in 2021 had nothing to do with the outdoor industry, but everything to do with how women are emerging leaders in government. With those leadership roles comes power and that’s what we need to rally behind: women, power and progress.”

It’s been four years since the first Women’s Outdoor Summit, which happened in San Francisco in 2017 and drew 200 attendees. Baker never planned for the summit to be a yearly event.

“I want it to be meaningful and doing it every year just didn’t seem appropriate,” she said. “With the pandemic and all in-person events being cancelled, I felt the time was right to do it again. This virtual event would give people something to look forward to.”

But why now? Baker was inspired by two women: Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Deb Haaland.

She said, “Making it happen in 2021 had nothing to do with the outdoor industry, but everything to do with how women are emerging leaders in government. With those leadership roles comes power and that’s what we need to rally behind: women, power and progress.”

The free, three-day virtual event will be streamed live via StreamYard on YouTube and will include a roundtable discussion with 18 women-identifying CEOs. In addition to two workshops and a panel, Congresswoman Deb Haaland of New Mexico and the founders of Intersectional Environmentalist, Leah Thomas, Diandra Marizet and Sabs Katz, will provide keynote speeches.

“Women working for both brands and nonprofits are eager to connect, uplift, and learn from each other. Linking together, we can dive into issues around sustainability, intersectional environmentalism, and accessibility,” said Atherton.

Women’s Outdoor Summit will focus on intersectionality

Intersectionality is a significant component of Women’s Outdoor Summit 2021, which will incorporate ASL (American Sign Language) translators, land acknowledgements by Jaylyn Gough, founder of Native Women’s Wilderness, and, of course, speakers from diverse backgrounds, 

“When we started planning the Summit in September 2020, we decided to put out a survey to the outdoor community so we could get some insight into what is top of mind for women in the industry right now,” said  Straub. “Thanks to more than 300 respondents, we learned that there’s an overwhelming demand for more conversation around sustainability, intersectional environmentalism, and accessibility.” 

For Baker, making the event inclusive is important. “Even with our focus on so many areas, I’m sure we’ll still make missteps,” said Straub. “But I want everyone, men included, to feel this is a welcoming space for them. The only way we’re going to create a more inclusive world is by making every attempt to include everyone.”

Sneak peek into the summit agenda

A panel called “Working Towards a More Accessible Outdoor Industry” will be led by Jenny Bruso, founder of Unlikely Hikers, and include a lineup of educators, advocates, and outdoor leaders who will discuss how to make the outdoor industry more accessible for all people. Kristy Drutman, creator of Brown Girl Green, will host a workshop that encourages attendees to convey how their backgrounds connect to climate justice.

With more attention on inclusivity in the outdoor industry, Baker, Atherton, and Straub hope that the virtual Women’s Outdoor Summit will foster conversation, collaboration, and action that will lead the industry on a better path.

“I believe this next generation of female leaders will not only tackle the challenges facing our planet, but also will open the doors to the outdoors for generations to come,” said Atherton. 

You can register for the event here.