30th June

[5 minute read]

The Sisterhood has much power and strength to drive gender equity forward.


Women Only Groups

© Pleasurephoto


Women only groups have been a good option for some. Emma Cairns, a BASI ISTD Level 4 instructor has been interested in improving numbers of female ski instructors for some time. Talking to mpora the online action sports magazine back in 2016, she was about to run an all-female camp in Verbier. 

 Her thinking? “By skiing in women-only groups we can learn together, deal with the positive and negative psychological influences at our own pace, focus on female physique and biomechanics and take our skiing to the next level. Skiing like a girl should be a compliment!” 

In 2021 Casey Purdie called for more all women training options in her research paper for BASI. She showed that stereotyping exists - and not in a good way for women on the slopes. It is harmful, resulting in either low self esteem resulting in dropping out, or a defiance to prove yourself thereby leading to unhelpful pressure.

PSIA-AASI's Ann Schorling's research which she presented at InterSki March 2023 looked at how minority status affects women's development in the ski instructor world. Ann explained the impact of skewed male / female groups whthere the minority, ie women in this case, go into survival mode and don't tend to challenge any steroptyping that might be going on. Like Casey's work, Ann's study showed that stereotyped people will perform lower and feel worse. They can start to absorb traits of the stereotyper and then don't support their co-stereotyped folk. Extreme gender biased victims compete against their minority peers, instead of supporting them. Which inevitably results in disengagement. 

And so, we have the 'affinity group' to try and address this. Ann's research showed affinity training, ie all women (or male) groups, helped improve professional skills as long as the leader / trainer is the same gender. Interestingly skiers wanted opportunities for all women groups whereas snowboards felt this was an offensive move with less benefit. This is to do with there being less women snowboarders than skiers ie less people in the minoritised group and less women to train at the higher levels of certification. So an affinity group would not be so effective for snowboarding woman currently. Gosh, this work is rigorous. Which is what we need! In our quest to keep moving forward.

Further interesting explanations of how affinity groups work to boost minority groups for mountain acitivities can be found here on the American Mountain Guides Association. 

A number of women only ski groups and clinics such as Ski Goddess based in Chatel, Porte du Soleil, France, have sprung up in recent years. There is The Ladies' Ski Club supporting British female skiers and a Women Who Ski Facebook Group and so much more - just ask google! Lots out there which is all very encouraging.


Media Representation 


There is a plethora of social media platforms set up by and for women in skiing and snowboarding. This is going some way to rectify the inequality of representation when it comes to women being filmed and photographed ‘sending it’ on the mountains. 

@misssnowitall and @wannaka’sfanny pack on instgram, ToughTits.com, and a grouped set of blog posts #showusdagirls  are just a few places to go for a bit of female snowports empowerment Down Under. And check out www.ridestore.com for 8 top female skiers across world to follow on instagram. 

Casey Purdie flagged social media platforms and brands helping to 'dismantle internalised mysogyny'. I checked out a few of her recommendations and wasn't disappointed two years on from Casey's research. IG @slutstrandsociety are currently championing Spyder's impactful campaign to support women - 'The Art of Confidence'. On checking out @womb.tang and @wombcork also flagged by Casey, the first post I came across was championing a TREW To You community film project in Whistler - the Burnout Club. 'Each member of the team is an advocate for mental helath and equality in the ski industry'. So there you go social media and major brands working together to back the cause of gender equity in snowsports. It's happening.


Female film Nexus: One is Not Enough packs a female punch

Due to premier in the UK September this year, Nexus: One is not Enough is a feature film with an all-female cast who document their relationship with the mountains.  

Produced, directed, edited and skied by women this film looks awesome. Prepare to be thrilled, amazed and moved. 

 Here’s a sneak preview made by the BBC. The film is due to be screened on 12th Sept at The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR.  

Screening plus Q&A panel with Nexus athletes and creatives. 

@girlsonthepiste of do a podcast also shared a nice clip explaining the title ‘one is not enough' on social media, and flagged that profits are being split between two amazing charities – Protect Our Winters and Women of Winter @protectourwinters @protectourwintersuk @womenofwinter. Nice! 

Get your tickets for the film here 


Get in touch to find out more about our ski and snowboard instructor courses. We want to level out our male / female numbers so calling all prospective women ski and snowboard instructors. Come ski a turn with SnowSkool.


Writer Kate Swainson Price

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