Women’s month provides the Forestry Sector with the ideal opportunity to address one of the persistent myths that has persistently dogged our Industry – that forestry is a male-only occupation. This outdated view of our diverse and opportunity-rich sector is highly detrimental as it puts off potential female candidates from applying for career openings in forestry. As a result, the Sector misses out on some of the brightest minds and these women miss out on the opportunity to be part of an exciting, diverse and essential Sector.
It is time, as an Industry, we start debunking these misconceptions and addressing any half-truths upon which they may have been formed. Certainly, forestry remains a male-dominated industry, a legacy created as a result of the gender-biased physical nature of forestry. However, over the past few decades, a lot has changed. Technological advances have reduced the physicality of forestry, enabling women to take up positions usually reserved for men.
Women have advanced through the ranks across almost every aspect of forestry with female CEOs, CFOs, plantation managers, machine operators, fire officers, scientists and marketers proving the hurdles that once thwarted women in the industry have begun to subside.
Yes, there is always need for improvement, as men still firmly outnumber women in our Sector, but as the quote goes “Rome was not built in a day” and perhaps it is time to reflect on what we have already achieved rather than be overwhelmed by the road ahead. Certainly, celebrating the women who have already established careers in forestry seems a better way of attracting more women to the industry. These women already in forestry are positive role models for the next generation of females in forestry, as they embody the wealth of opportunities available to women who are determined, dedicated and passionate about the forestry sector.
FSA’s #WomenInForestry campaign does this by providing a platform for women from across the Sector and associated value chains to raise their voices to promote both the success of women currently in forestry but also the opportunity for women to join the industry. It is a celebration of the female face of forestry, by the women who have been the trailblazers, pioneers and game-changers.
Throughout Women’s Month, a new profile has been released every day, promoting both the diversity of forestry-related careers available to women and the multiple reasons why these women are passionate about forestry and welcoming more women into the Sector. We would like to thank each of these truly inspiring women, for being the voice of change and illustrating to the world the female face of South African forestry.