Becoming an Outdoors-Woman: Barriers and Strategies for Participation of Women with Physical Disabilities in Outdoor Recreation
Gransee, Michelle J.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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Only one percent of American women are involved in the hunting/shooting sports. Nine percent of American women go fishing. A 1990 conference at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point identified the primary barrier to participation for women in outdoor recreation as a lack of educational opportunities for women (Thomas & Peterson, 1993). This conference led to the formation of Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, an outdoor skills education program that reaches over 20,000 women throughout North America each year. Two conferences were conducted in April and June 2002 to identify the barriers and strategies for including women with physical disabilities in outdoor recreation through the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program. The method of data collection included individual and group input around three topic areas: barriers to participation faced by women with physical disabilities, strategies to increase participation of women with physical disabilities, and specific action plans or goal oriented items that agencies can implement. The results from these discussions indicate that women with physical limitations face similar barriers to participation in outdoor recreation as do women without physical limitations, including a lack of educational opportunities and feeling unwelcome. Women with physical limitations also face accessibility issues and fear or intimidation by instructors and participants. This study suggests that through a commitment to inclusive programming and by addressing the barriers identified, agencies will reach many more women, and a deeper understanding between service providers and participants may be gained.