WHERE ARE ALL THE GIRLS?
I was delighted to read about ‘The Next Generation’ in February’s Bird Watching. I came to birdwatching about four years ago while in my 60s. Far too late. I am passionate about it, but envious of the opportunities that these young people have. One aspect of the article caught my eye: where are the girls? Of the 10 biographies presented, seven were of males. I wondered if this reflected the birdwatching community in general. Scrutiny of back issues of Bird Watching reveals a preponderance of males, as authors of articles, photographers and even in adverts. On this evidence, any girl could be forgiven for thinking that birdwatching is a male domain. We must help young females to see bird watching and natural history in general as a ‘cool’ leisure pursuit. Some months ago my 7-year-old cousin visited RSPB Minsmere. After a while, in one hide, she lamented quietly to her mother, “I can’t see any birds, Mummy” at which point all the (male) inhabitants of the hide, turned and glared. Were they never novice birders? This experience has certainly put one young lady off, but I am doing my best to reverse the damage. Bring on the girls! Jenny Jones, Liverpool
First let me thank you for yet another excellent issue of your outstanding magazine. I particularly loved the feature on the Great Black-backed Gull, an impressive bird which is too often overlooked! I am so glad I subscribed. Cheers to Bo Beolens for tackling the issue of sexism in birdwatching. Perhaps part of the reason there are fewer women than men is that they are simply intimidated and feel deliberately excluded from the club. Your magazine, for example, does not have regular female writers/experts, despite the fact there are many out there [Ed: don’t forget about regular columnists Kate Risely and Rosamond Richardson]. And in this month’s feature on young birdwatchers, only two of the eight featured were female. (I do appreciate that Nicola Boulton had a full article.) There is a second issue that might be worth considering, and that is that women are not as easily able to travel about alone as men due to safety concerns. There have been countless times that I have wanted to venture further into the woods or out into the field but it has simply not been safe to do so on my own. Obviously, this is a tricky issue and I very much appreciate your magazine taking the time to address it. Thank you sincerely for your time and keep up the good work – and please keep your female readers in mind! Becci, (Northern Ireland)