Women's Outdoor Leadership Course

Women's Outdoor Leadership Course

The 2021 course has now completed. Watch this space for information about future courses, and please contact katherine.obrien@outwardbound.org.uk if you'd like to be put on the communications list for updates as soon as they're live.

Why do we run a Women's Outdoor Leadership Course?

We believe that role models matter to the young people we work with and we want to play a part in providing opportunities for the next generation of great female leaders.

50% of Outward Bound course participants are female, yet our instructional team is not representative. We recognise our traditionally masculine roots and therefore since 2019 we've been committed to taking action to redress the gender imbalance in our workforce. We don’t know if this is an answer to increasing representation by women within the outdoor sector. But we do know that if we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll likely get what we’ve always got. This is an opportunity to challenge ourselves, tread new ground and hopefully learn a lot through the process.

We've listened to practitioners, academics, national governing bodies, experts outside of the outdoor sector and most importantly you. Women looking forward to a career in the outdoors. We’ve heard from women who experience limitations (internal or external), women who don’t and from those who in hindsight recognise a variety of factors which have stalled progress, undermined confidence or limited movement towards their potential as an outdoor leader.

These are themes that come up time and time again in conversation and research into women’s leadership in the outdoors. It’s exciting to be in a position to take some practical action!

Perhaps you identify with the self-doubt that can show up uninvited when you’re putting yourself forward for challenges, new roles or assessments. Or the feeling of needing to be 110% ready. You might have come across more subtle influences that can lead to a different experience for female leaders in the outdoors. When you stop and consider the history of participation, leadership and media portrayal in the outdoors, it’s unsurprising that this affects women disproportionately.

Maybe you recognise the value of an opportunity to be led and mentored by other women (as well as men), and the benefits that can flow from learning alongside female peers. Interestingly research suggests a paradox here, with some women feeling the benefit only after overcoming initial resistance to joining a female specific opportunity. Will you take the leap to find out?

It’s possible that none of the above applies to you and you are simply interested in the opportunity to develop your skills as a leader in the outdoors. We’ve heard a mixture of responses to women specific courses. They won’t be for everyone. If you’re curious, and the course appeals, we hope you’ll consider applying to find out more so you can see for yourself whether this could be the next step in your career.

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More information
How do I apply?

All of the places for our 2021 course have been filled.

We hope the course will be back in 2022. If you think this course is right for you (see who is it for below), you can register your early interest by email to katherine.obrien@outwardbound.org.uk.

When applications open, we'll ask you to fill in an online form and send us a copy of your CV. The next stage will be interview - both as part of an online group conversation and a 1:1 interview. The course normally runs September-November, but you'll know if you have got a place on the course by June so you can make plans for your summer.

Who is it for?

This course is for women who have already started on their outdoor leadership journey. By the time the course starts you will need to have undertaken two out of three of the following training courses (or have the logbook experience and a plan):

  1. Summer Mountain Leader Training
  2. Rock Climb Instructor (or SPA) Training
  3. Paddlesport Instructor or equivalent.

You'll want to work with young people in outdoor personal development and ideally at Outward Bound. It would be great if you have 12 months experience working with young people in any context.

We'll also ask you to undergo an enhanced level DBS check ahead of the course starting.

What will we do?

So far our Women's Outdoor Leadership Courses have been based at Outward Bound Ullswater. This might change in the future... but all courses will include facilitated personal development adventures with your dedicated course lead and the opportunity to work on your technical, personal development and leadership skills with our most qualified staff in adventure and psychology. There will also be time working with groups of young people alongside experienced instructors.

Your course lead will work with you as a group and individually over the 10 weeks to ensure you have maximum opportunity to progress and work towards your goals. Outward Bound are investing in this because we hope you will be motivated to come and work with us in the future, to inspire our next generation of female adventurers.

Below is an outline of what to expect:

What does it cost?

People have shared with us that committing to something challenging, like an assessment, can give you the motivation you need to do it. So we are building some commitment in by asking you to pay a deposit of £500. Upon completion of the leadership programme The Outward Bound Trust will return this to you by paying for the assessment(s) you are working towards in the 12 months following the course (up to £500). This is non-refundable.

If you change your mind about joining before the course, or decide it is not for you once starting, we will reinvest the money into development of the programme. If finding the deposit is a financial barrier, please contact us to find out more about means tested bursary funding which may be made available.

We also ask that you participate in our programme evaluation and provide feedback to support us in developing our offer further.

What are the opportunities after?

This course doesn't guarantee you a job. But if you think Outward Bound is the kind of place you’d like to work, you will be in a great position to apply through one of our recruitment pathways. This may include paid instructor development positions, however you'll still have to meet the minimum requirements for these roles.

Quote womens leadership course
I met wonderful role models, worked collaboratively with an amazing cohort of likeminded women, and perhaps most significantly gained a deeper understanding of myself. It was an incredible opportunity that's truly altered my mindset, and given me the tools to progress.
2019 course participant