A new campaign at Seattle-based REI wants to level the playing field when it comes to gender equity in the outdoors.
"When we take an honest look at the outdoor stories we tell and the heroes we typically herald, we see that as an industry, we are not championing women and men equally," wrote Jerry Stritzke, REI President and CEO. "A casual look at any portrayal of the outdoors—movie, magazine, catalog, store, bookshelf—shows male imagery, heroes and stories. This doesn’t honor or accurately depict the important role that women play in the outdoors. As the saying goes, 'You can’t be what you can’t see.'”
The company commissioned a national study, and the results showed that more than 85 percent of all women surveyed believed the outdoors positively impacts mental health, happiness and overall well-being but 63 percent of women said they couldn't think of an outdoor female role model. Six in 10 women say that men's interests in outdoor activities are taken more seriously than women's.
REI is combating that with a promise to put women first in its Force of Nature campaign by breaking stereotypes and getting women outdoors.
The company is creating more content for women by partnering with Outside Magazine in its first-ever all women's issue.
On May 6, REI is kicking off more than 1,000 events designed for woman including REI Outdoor School classes, 19 adventure trips and three 3-day retreats. The company has also promised to design better gear for women.
REI is also committing $1 million to help other organizations that already support women and girls in the outdoors. Groups like Camber Outdoors, GirlTrek and the YMCA will receive thousands of dollars in funding.