It’s great to hear stories of women entering the world of conservation and absolutely nailing it. In a typically male-dominated industry, being a female ranger often means having to keep up with the physical demands of working outdoors.
When I was working in the professional scuba diving industry, I had to be both mentally alert and physically fit. Having to take serious responsibility for the safety of my student divers, I had to make sure I was always on top of things. Be it carrying heavy dive gear, supporting my divers’ body weight through tougher parts of their course, hauling scuba tanks out of the water, I had to stay sharp all the way. I discovered that when you’re in the moment, other things – apart from the awareness of your physical abilities – take priority; somehow you rise to the occasion and become ‘the ant pushing a boulder up a hill’.
Somehow I’ve circled back to that path of keeping up with the physical demands again, while at the same time not getting any younger. It’s never been more apparent that the tools and equipment I use should assist and not drag me down.
In my ranger training, I’ve been using lots of different countryside tools and equipment. I’ve realised that many are built for my male counterparts. Don’t get me wrong, I completely believe women should stand for equal rights in our society today, but I have to also agree that through evolution men are physically built stronger than women. Thus in order for us (smaller) women to find equal standing in a physically demanding landscape, we definitely need our tools to work for us: Shorter handles, lighter and sturdier tools, tools with adjustable lengths, the list goes on. And not to mention PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), for example chainsaw boots for smaller sized feet and shorter length trousers. Much much needed.
Think small and strong. We can be mighty if we want to and if the shoe fits!