An interview with The North Face's ambassadors #shemovesmountains Campaign
We started She Went Wild with the aim of increasing awareness of women's achievements within the outdoor and adventure sport industry...and over the last couple of years, we've whooped and hollered as the industry changed and females became more recognised.
Recently, The North Face launched their #shemovesmountains campaign and initiative, which aims to inspire and encourage girls and women to push limits, even beyond the realm of the outdoors, by celebrating female creators, athletes, educators and innovators.
The campaign encompasses partnerships with female-empowering organizations, a business commitment that impacts everything from representation in advertising campaigns to investment in product design...and of course, sharing badass stories of women relentlessly breaking boundaries.
Because what goes around, comes around - as Tom Herbst, Global Vice President of Marketing at The North Face, says, "if women and girls see more role models in exploration, it will create more female role models for future generations.”
So let's hear from 3 of these role models and The North Face athletes.
We sit down with Angie Scarth-Johnson (climber), Anna Segal (freeskier) and Lisa Tamati (ultra marathon runner) to chat more about their experience in the outdoor and adventure sport industry as women....
Have you faced challenges being a woman within the outdoor industry?
ANGIE: Being only 14 years old, I’ve yet to experience major challenges being a woman in the industry, besides a couple comments made about pursuing a more 'girly' sport or being able to climb so well despite my hand size – which by the way, are not small at all! I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by very encouraging and positive people and I also acknowledge the past generations of women who fought to make pursuing a career in sport easier for girls today, especially Lynn Hill and Louise Shepard in climbing.
ANNA: The biggest challenge I've faced as a woman with the outdoor industry in the past is the disproportionate opportunities for females in terms of sponsorship, going on trips, film projects etc. It is often a team of males and one token female. I think things are changing in the right direction and it's exciting to be part of this new era.
LISA: Yes, though not directly in the ultra marathon running scene. I was doing the pilot for a TV series called 'Run the Planet' and we pitched it to the Discovery Channel...who didn't want a female lead. I had to have a male co-host and in the end, the show didn't get picked up anyway. This experience showed me that females are still not totally accepted in the adventure industry, at least not by the media.
The North Face's new campaign is a great move in the right direction. However, what else do you think can be done to ensure a fair representation of women within the industry?
ANGIE: Women need to be appreciated for their skills, knowledge, abilities and hard work rather than what they look like. The industry needs to continue to encourage girls and women to focus on these qualities to be role models.
ANNA: Ensuring that an equal amount of marketing budget goes into both male and female athletes. Projects and media exposure is a great way to ensure fair representation of women as well as grow female participation in the outdoor industry. The more females we can get to participate, the larger the industry will grow. And this is good for everyone!
LISA: We need the media to give us a fairer go, for example in terms of equal pay for speaking appearances. We need pay equity in general!
Who is your female role model, and how have they helped you shape your career?
ANGIE: There are so many strong and inspirational women, past and present in climbing, that I couldn't just pick one. I have picked up qualities from all of them, contributing to how I want to be as a person and athlete. Outside of climbing, Malala Yousafzai's strength, courage and determination is beyond amazing. The empowerment and voice she gives girls and women all over the world to pursue their dreams and advocate for their rights makes me thankful every day for the opportunities that I have.
ANNA: I have many female role models, including my Mum. But the one who stands out most in inspiring me to follow my skiing dreams is Sarah Burke. Sarah was a pioneer in not only female freeskiing, but for females in action sports, in general. Back in the day, Sarah would refuse to be left out of competitions and would show up to events and compete with the men. She pushed hard for having women in the X-Games, for equal prize money and led the way for female progression in slopestyle and halfpipe skiing.
LISA: My mum, in her strength and quiet dignity, is my role model. She had a brain aneurysm 2 years ago, after which doctors said she wouldn't recover. However, from my experiences in the outdoors and ultra marathon running, I knew the mind and body is capable of so much more than conventional belief. I took some time off to be involved in her rehab journey, which was tougher than any of my ultra marathon races. Today, she's reading, writing, walking, talking etc - everything that they said was impossible.
What advice would you give the upcoming generation of women who want a career in the outdoor industry?
ANGIE: I believe that equality will only happen when we stop thinking of gender as a barrier to success by proving that it isn’t. If we prove we are capable of anything, society will eventually have no choice but to change, so don’t allow gender stereotypes to stop you from achieving what you want to do. The great thing about climbing is that it is gender neutral - the rock doesn’t know that you are a female and the mental and physical game is within yourself.
ANNA: If someone isn't presenting the opportunity to you, create it for yourself. Go out on a limb, get your hands dirty and start new projects. Yes, it can be riskier this way (especially financially), but the lessons you will learn by doing things yourself will make it well worth it.
LISA: Make it happen for yourself! Today, we are lucky enough to have the power to get our own stories out there. We have the ability to self-publish, to create YouTube channels, to manage Instagram accounts and Facebook pages and to host our own podcasts. Take the initiative and fight for what you want.
When we first started She Went Wild, one of our favourite slogans was "Inspired Women, Inspiring Women" and so we hope that hearing from these 3 women and athletes, who are breaking boundaries in their own sport, lights a fire under you to push your own limits.
Thank you to Angie, Anna and Lisa for their time...and bring on this global effort by The North Face to celebrate female achievement.