Becoming an Outdoors Woman Success Stories in the Southeast

Women have typically been underrepresented in the numbers of hunters and anglers. A 1990 workshop, "Breaking Down the Barriers to Participation of Women in Angling and Hunting," held at the College of Natural Resources at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, identified 21 reasons for their low participation in these activities. These barriers, ranging from childhood conditioning to ill-fitting equipment and clothing, have kept women from enjoying outdoor activities as fully as do men. Fourteen barriers related to lack of information. To address that problem, Dr. Christine Thomas of UW-Stevens Point developed "Becoming an Outdoors Woman" (BOW), a skills workshop focusing on outdoor skills usually associated with hunting and fishing, but including other activities as well. The weekend clinics provide education in a non-threatening, supportive atmosphere. A research project sponsored by national sports/conservation organizations surveyed the first 800 participants. The research found that workshop attendees increased participation in activities learned at the clinics; became more favorable in their attitudes toward hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities; and purchased outdoor equipment and clothing. A control group surveyed reported significantly less activity and less favorable attitudes than participants. Workshop success, as evidenced by participant responses, is one step toward breaking down barriers and welcoming women outdoors. By the end of 1995, more than 8,000 women will have been reached across the country by BOW workshops in 34 states and 2 Canadian provinces. The southeastern region of the United States is among the strongest components in BOW, with solid agency support and tremendous participant response. The program has been endorsed by the Executive Committee of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Management Agencies, and has broad national advocacy.

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