Gender Inclusive Leadership in University Outdoor Education; It’s Not Just Women’s Business

Ms Rylie Charles1, Professor Tonia Gray1, Dr. Son Truong1
1Western Sydney University , Sydney, Australia


Progress for gender equality within Outdoor Education (OE) is currently growing. However, the current landscape reveals efforts to implement egalitarian approaches and practices have only been partially attained (Gray, 2018). To address this issue, I embarked on a masters research project to increase awareness of gender inclusive leadership to improve the implementation of these approaches with those who deliver OE university courses. Despite the surrounding literature, studies focusing specifically on the influence of the application of gender inclusive strategies are noticeably absent.

This presentation intends to inspire discussion and action regarding gender inclusive leadership to assist delegates to engage in their own reflexive practice to undertake this critical work. Details surrounding the interpretative methods of journaling and content analysis will be explored. These methods seek understanding of lived experiences and the theoretical perspective is supported by a critical education lens incorporating feminist, post-structural and neo-Marxist (intersectional) notions (Lather, 1991). The concept of the Rhizome (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) will be weaved throughout the presentation and will be explored as to how it has been applied as a theoretical framework to map the multiple influences and aspects of this project.

This research acts as a platform for gender inclusive leadership to be revisited to continue adaptation to ensure OE continues to address inequalities. New perspectives to the existing literature are explored and provides further expansion and refinement for recommendations for future practice.

Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). Introduction: Rhizome A Thousand Plateaus; Capitalism and Schizophrenia (pp. 3-25). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Gray, T. (2018). Thirty Years on, and Has the Gendered Landscape Changed in Outdoor Learning. In The Palgrave international handbook of women and outdoor learning (pp. 35-53). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Lather, P. (1991). Getting smart: Feminist research and pedagogy within/in the postmodern. New York, NY: Routledge

Rylie Charles is an Outdoor Education graduate from the Australian Catholic University and is currently studying a Master of Philosophy (Education) at Western Sydney University. Her research topic focuses on gender inclusive leadership in higher degree Outdoor Education. She also works as a freelance outdoor leader and loves to share her experiences in the outdoors with others.

About OEA and Outdoors NSW

Outdoor Education Australia (OEA)  was established in 2006 as a national network of outdoor education associations. The organisation facilitates communication between state and territory outdoor education associations about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.

Outdoors NSW is the go-to place for all things outdoors in NSW.

The peak body for the outdoors in NSW, the organisation, (formerly known as ORIC), represents the outdoor community, advances outdoor standards, safety and practices, and fosters greater participation in the outdoors.

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