International Women's Day 2018

Lizzie and Lucienne bouldering

The theme of this year's International Women's Day is “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”.

We know that everyone who holds our qualifications is involved in transforming people’s lives in both rural and urban environments and today is an opportunity to celebrate the women who have gained our qualifications. We’d also like to share with you how we, as an organisation, are trying to influence our corner of the outdoor sector to transform more women’s lives.

Success at assessment is always cause for celebration and since last International Women’s Day (8th March, 2017), the following number of women have gained each qualification (with the percentage of the total passes for the year in the final column):

Lowland Leader 181 37%
Hill and Moorland Leader 54 41%
Mountain Leader 181 26%
Winter Mountain Leader 10 23%
International Mountain Leader* 9 24%
Climbing Wall Award 239 39%
Single Pitch Award 93 23%
Climbing Wall Leading Award 31 21%
Foundation Coach 18 31%
Development Coach* 1 8%
Mountaineering Instructor Award 3 7%
Mountaineering Instructor Certificate* 0 0%

*These figures do not take into account courses which have happened in the past few days, during which we know more women have gained the International Mountain Leader qualification, another woman has passed Development Coach assessment and at least two women have gained the Mountaineering Instructor Certificate.

Increasing the number of qualified women at every level of our qualification pathway is an important part of raising the profile of women in the outdoor sector so that more women’s lives can be transformed. More qualified women means more people seeing and interacting with women in leadership positions. Role modelling has been identified through various studies as being an influencing factor for young people and adults alike so we’re keen to support more women through all of our qualifications.

Women in Mountain Training


Since starting our Women in Mountain Training initiative in the autumn of 2015 we’ve been trying to understand more about the barriers that exist to women taking up our leadership qualifications and are trying to encourage and support more women to do so. We recognise that this is a complex issue and there are no quick fix solutions and we’re committed to improving the figures over the long term.

In the short term, the very existence of our Women in Mountain Training Facebook group appears to be helping individuals to ask questions, share articles, link up to gain experience and discuss topics as varied as where to get some quality mountain days and how to encourage manufacturers to make colourful clothing for women. We’re really pleased that the group now has 1,461 members (female and male) and we’re keen to support the group for as long as it is useful.

Womens Winter Week cSamLeary

The overall picture of people who hold our qualifications has evolved since 1964 with the introduction of new qualifications which have appealed to different audiences. The Lowland Leader and Climbing Wall Award qualifications are currently the most popular with women, both in terms of the actual number registering/qualifying each year and the percentage of overall candidates who are female.

The distinction between changes in the actual number of females and changes in the percentage of female candidates taking part in a particular scheme is an important one to make as it’s possible to see improvements in the former without any improvement in the latter. As our qualifications grow in popularity, more people are registering and passing assessment (both female and male). In some schemes this growth is happening at an equal rate for both genders which means no change in the percentages of each gender, whereas in other schemes the female increase is greater and therefore the percentage also changes.

We have been and will continue to monitor changes in female involvement with our qualifications in the hope that, over time, mountaineering leadership (in all its guises and varied roles) becomes a more gender balanced picture.

We wish you all a happy International Women’s Day and if you’re thinking about getting qualified, remember, #TimeIsNow.


Check out our article from last year's International Women's Day to read more about some of the women who hold our qualifications.