Félag Fjallaleiðsögumanna á Íslandi

Association of Icelandic Mountain Guides

Áfram kvenfólk í AIMG!

Go women in AIMG!

By Íris Ragnarsdóttir Pedersen

Throughout the history of mountaineering, all over the world, the participation of women is tilted. Today, fortunately, it is not difficult to find female role models in any kind of mountaineering or guiding, and we should all be able to find our role models, no matter their gender.

In Iceland this is the same, and within our association AIMG too. This year a remarkable event happened, for the first time in the association history there were more women than men at the final Fjalla2 exam. The fact that this was actually a remarkable event says it all.

But why do fewer women enroll in higher level courses at AIMG? What can our society and industry do to help more women complete a higher education?
To some extent, the reason may lie within the tourist industry. It is certainly known that there is a masculine atmosphere with mountaineering, and even though we have come a long way in terms of gender equality in Iceland, the tourism industry is possibly the one with the highest percentage of foreign employees. Cultures from all over the world meet there, so perhaps it is not strange that we need to be more in favor of equality/equal genger ratios in the industry.

Other times, it’s up to us women. I can say it firsthand, that when you are the only girl in a course or exam, you feel like there is more attention on you, because you are the girl in the course. And for that reason, you don’t want to do anything else to draw more attention to yourself. Like for example by performing poorly. But are women therefore waiting too long to register for the exams? And then once we do, do we show up to the exams more than ready? Does this have something to do with our confidence?

Research has shown that healty workplaces have a diverse workforce, both in management and other positions. It is therefore important that we keep this in mind in our industry. We see it on courses at AIMG that there is often a better atmosphere when the groups are made up of people of all genders. It is important that we support and encourage women to continue their education, and most importantly, continue to do what they enjoy doing in the mountains.
Then hopefully we will continue our journey to equalize the gender ratio with the association. Currently there are two women on AIMG’s board, no women on the association’s technical committees, and only one active female instructor. Every year approximately one girl signs up for Jökla3 and over all 65 men have finished Jökla3, vs. 13 women. We have a long way to go.
Let’s do better, go girls!