Why I set up a suc­cess­ful bird­watch­ing group for women

Bird Watching (UK) - - Your View -

I was in­ter­ested to read the two replies from fe­male read­ers in Your View about bird­watch­ing tend­ing to be male dom­i­nated. Four years ago, I set up a group specif­i­cally for women in­ter­ested in get­ting out and about to watch wildlife, in­clud­ing birds. This was in re­sponse to com­ments made by sev­eral women vis­it­ing a well-known lo­cal hide to be met with a mostly male crowd of bird­watch­ers, many of whom were un­friendly and not will­ing to give any in­for­ma­tion about the birds on view. Com­ments I had from women in­cluded “I felt silly ask­ing a ques­tion”. Many said they would not visit this hide again. As many of these women were just be­gin­ning to de­velop an in­ter­est in bird­watch­ing, this could have brought this to an abrupt end. My group, Wildlife Women, now has more than 90 women on the email list. I or­gan­ise an event each month – these reg­u­larly at­tract 10 to 25 women. Many of these women have chil­dren and grand­chil­dren, whom they are also en­cour­ag­ing to be­come in­ter­ested in wildlife. The group is free and vol­un­tary and also ad­dresses the safety con­cerns of go­ing to iso­lated places alone. It is ironic that the RSPB de­vel­oped from the ac­tions of a group of women in the 19th Cen­tury, protest­ing about birds be­ing killed for their feath­ers to be used in hats, yet the mem­ber­ship of the RSPB has only con­tained more women than men within the last year or so. Ann Mitchell, Devon

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