/ Where are the women?

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janeth - on 16 Oct 2012
Where are you all?

In early Sept myself and my (female) climbing partner went on a bit of a UK road trip. We have not done much cragging over the last 10 years due to family commitments and we were expecting to see an increase in the number of women climbing - but no - nothing appears to have changed from when we were climbing regularly. We were at Bowden - no other women leading and very few bouldering and none climbing together, Windgather (bumbly heaven - we were recovering from Bowden) again very few women leading and no other women climbing together. 2 days at the popular end of stanage and a similar story. Wales (Cromlech, Grochan and tremadoc) showed a slight improvment in the score sheet. We see loads of women climbing at our local wall and women are much better represented in the mags and guidebooks than when we first started climbing - so where are they all climbing??? Do the all just climb inside 0r have they all become good sports climbers without lingering on the trad routes?
Hairy Pete on 16 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth: Good question :-)
omerta on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:

I wandered to Llanymynech over the weekend and there was an incredibly strong looking female climber who according to my friend, 'showed the blokes what it was all about.' But she was the first woman who I've seen out climbing in a long while, myself excluded and I'm a bimbly ledge-shuffling second at present
climbingpixie - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:

A quick glance at my logbook shows that since early September I've been climbing at Gogarth, Almscliff, Iron Crag, Tilberthwaite, Running Hill Pits, Millstone, Cratcliffe and Hen Cloud so clearly you're just going to the wrong crags... ;-)

On a more serious note, I would sadly agree with you. Women are still under-represented on our crags, women leading are rarer and women climbing as a pair rarer still. Of all the climbing trips listed above I can only think of one of those crags (Tilberthwaite) where I've seen a pair of women climbing together. That said, there's nothing wrong with climbing with a male partner - I climb mostly with my boyfriend (who climbs harder than me) but I do my fair share of the leading.

I think the situation is exemplified by the reaction you get when people realise that you're out with a female partner, or that you've taken the lead on a route. I was chatting to a guy at Gogarth about Red Wall (they'd been on it earlier that day and we'd done it the day before), partway through the conversation I must have said something that surprised him as he did a bit of a double take and said 'oh, you led the main pitch? Good effort'. I found the comment a bit partonising and kind of want to be annoyed that people make the assumption that women climbers wouldn't take the lead on that kind of route but sadly my experience, and that of others, is that women are all too often a passive partner, just following their menfolk.
Blue Straggler - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to climbingpixie:
> (In reply to janeth)
> he did a bit of a double take and said 'oh, you led the main pitch? Good effort'. I found the comment a bit partonising and kind of want to be annoyed that people make the assumption that women climbers wouldn't take the lead on that kind of route but sadly my experience, and that of others, is that women are all too often a passive partner


Are you sure it wasn't because you are about 3 feet tall? :-)

mikekeswick - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to climbingpixie: Women are still under-represented on our crags

How can you be under represented?? Either you climb and represent yourself i.e. by being there, or you don't??? I didn't realise there were loads of women climbers who don't climb...!!
Why not take the 'good effort' as a positive remark rather than something derogatory. Maybe what he really meant was 'I found that quite hard....'
Postmanpat on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:

Where are you all?
>
Indoors? That's why they're called "her indoors" :-)
Blue Straggler - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to climbingpixie:

More seriously, did you ask the guy why he seemed so surprised? I would have done (in a friendly and polite manner)
Monk - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:

I've noticed that indoor bouldering-only centres have a high ratio of women to men; however, like you, I haven't noticed an increase in the number of women either at traditional indoor centres or on the crags. No idea why this should be the case.
climbingpixie - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to mikekeswick:

It's not really very hard though and given that they were about to ab down to do The Moon they were climbing harder than me anyway. It's not an isolated incident either - I had something similar racking up at the base of Pull My Daisy (while out with my male partner). The chap in the next team along looked over and exclaimed, in a surprised tone, 'oh, you're leading it'.

By under-represented I mean that the numbers of women are quite low compared to the number of women at the wall, or in the population generally. Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's necessarily a problem (as far as I'm aware there's nothing stopping women from getting out) it's just an observation. Tbh compared to cycling there's loads of women who climb!
GrahamD - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler:

> More seriously, did you ask the guy why he seemed so surprised? I would have done (in a friendly and polite manner)

The reason for surprise is obvious, isn't it ? its because its a sadly unusual sight.
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth: I thought this thread was going to be about The Great British Bake Off
tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:

I have also found that women do seem to behave differently in all female groups. When climbing with blokes around, in my own experience, many women (including me) can be quite a lot more passive. I'm not really that bothered about which crag I usually go to, and can leave decision making up to others. However, once you stick a load of women together, then they start to become more assertive. I've noticed it when cycling too... my mates seem to go all competitive in an all women group!

Also - although I generally take turns at leading, I did notice that quite often I end up doing the second lead of the day, rather than the first. That means that whenever we do an odd number of climbs, I end up doing one less lead. So now I sometimes jump in and just grab the first lead of the day :-) Funnily enough, on those days, we do tend to do an even number of routes... I do think it is my own responsibility and a result of my own lazy attitude rather than anyone else putting it onto me.

There are a lot more women climbing indoors now than there were, but I do agree, outside I still hardly ever see a pair of women and I never see a whole group of women...
tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler:
> (In reply to climbingpixie)
>
> More seriously, did you ask the guy why he seemed so surprised? I would have done (in a friendly and polite manner)

Goodness - I've made such an assumption! I always thought that you were a bloke! I do apologise!

tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:

Don't know if you have ever had much to do with the Pinnacle club? There are plenty of women getting out and about there...

http://pinnacleclub.co.uk/
Parrys_apprentice - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to Blue Straggler)
> [...]
>
> Goodness - I've made such an assumption! I always thought that you were a bloke! I do apologise!

go with it
Blue Straggler - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to tlm:

Regardless of the genders of both antagonist and protagonist, if the antagonist is a stranger then the protagonist should be welcome to ask why the antagonist is surprised.
Erstwhile on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:
>
> expecting to see an increase in the number of women climbing - but no

When I started as a lad there were hardly any girl climbers, but over the years their numbers increased gradually. Then I was out of climbing for a few years and found on my "comeback" that sadly there appeared to be much fewer females again.
Perhaps it has something to do with fingernail fashions?
Or is it possible for the different sexes of the same species to be more or less evolved, in the sense that men are closer to apes than women?

One outdoor sport in which women appear to be increasing in numbers (at least in Italy) is ski mountaineering. A young lady once told me that skinning uphill is the best known exercise for eliminating cellulite fat and getting a nice rear end (Italian girls are perfectly happy to discuss such topics with men - I add for curious male readers that she was very clearly in maintenance mode). You then get to ski back down for fun, and the male company are likely to be pretty fit too (reasoning like a girl, as it were).
Come to think of it, there are a lot more men going ski mountaineering these days as well ...
So is it a chain reaction, a statistical blandness, or just the result of increasing lift tickets paired with economic downturn? (Or all that stylish new gear?)
Destined forever to know, but never to know why ...

(Coffee time, at last)
Blue Straggler - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to Blue Straggler)
> [...]
>
> Goodness - I've made such an assumption! I always thought that you were a bloke! I do apologise!

What is it about my post that suggests my gender to you?
aligibb - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to climbingpixie:

My 1st though when I started reading this thread was... I see more women climbing compared to out Mountain biking.

I have to admit to just starting off on the climbing front so am not climbing anything hard (yet!) that would surprise any guy that sees a girl racking up/leading etc. I was pleasantly surprised and inspired a bit last Saturday (which was v wet in the peaks) when we went along to Raven Tor and there was the most girls I had seen climbing at a crag so far, and all climbing really hard and well.

Other experience in the Peaks was going out MTB on a perfect day (sun, not a cloud in the sky)and not seeing a single other girl on a bike all day out of maybe 50 others we saw out biking. best bit was outriding all the men I was with, even if they were my Dad and his mates!

Its quite different in the Alps/France on the climbing and biking front, girls are still in the minority but theres alot more of us out there doing things.
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Bulls Crack - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to Blue Straggler)
>
> [...]
>
> The reason for surprise is obvious, isn't it ? its because its a sadly unusual sight.

Depending somewhat on where you climb though. I've been to Trollers Ghyll at lot this year and there have been strong female individuals and teams there on most days. However that's just one example - thinking back on this year: Pavey Ark - mixed teams in evidence, Tremadog, Wye Valley - ditto, sport venues ditto but probably all with women as the minority.
Al Evans on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to climbingpixie:
> (In reply to mikekeswick)
>
> It's not really very hard though and given that they were about to ab down to do The Moon they were climbing harder than me anyway.generally. Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's necessarily a problem (as far as I'm aware there's nothing stopping women from getting out) it's just an observation. Tbh compared to cycling there's loads of women who climb!

Having climbed with you, you would piss The Moon.
DonWhillansSpirit - on 17 Oct 2012
Eh up.

Women... climbing, now you're joking.
GrahamD - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Bulls Crack:

Of course there are exceptions - but they really are that. Its sadly true that most women you see at the crag ARE playing second fiddle to a male counterpart - even if there is no climbing reason for them to do so.
tallsteve - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:

Ditto Erstwhile. When I started it wasn't a question of where the female climbers were. There just weren't any (or very few anyway).

A lot of people climbing indoors would love to try the outdoors, but don't know how to go about it. There seems to be a perception that the only way to move forward is to go on an expensive PYB course.

The slow death of the club scene, and concerns over being sued for personal injury, means that fewer people get "shown the ropes" by willing old hands in the sport.

Maybe the question is; how do we get the indoor women some outside experience?

I would offer, of course, but the wife might object if I started frequenting remote crags with young, fit, lean, sexy .... must go, need cold shower!
climbingpixie - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to tlm:

I've not climbed in an all female group but I have climbed in a pair with other women and I've not found a marked difference in the dynamic. To me the biggest factor is probably experience/ability level - I'm probably more assertive if I'm climbing with someone at the same sort of level as me, whereas I'd perhaps defer more to someone who climbed harder.
toad - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth: It's a little off topic, but Mitt Romney is getting a lot of grief over women in his campaign team - google "binders full of women"
Bulls Crack - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to Bulls Crack)
>
> Of course there are exceptions - but they really are that. Its sadly true that most women you see at the crag ARE playing second fiddle to a male counterpart - even if there is no climbing reason for them to do so.

But how do you determine that short of asking all women climbers?

one for the symposium maybe?!
tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler:
> (In reply to tlm)
> [...]
>
> What is it about my post that suggests my gender to you?

Oh - it was just the assumptions that you made in that post... :-) You seem sort of tetchy today - everything alright?

tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to GrahamD:
> Of course there are exceptions - but they really are that. Its sadly true that most women you see at the crag ARE playing second fiddle to a male counterpart - even if there is no climbing reason for them to do so.


I sort of wonder if this (making sweeping generalisations) is to do with how men and women work out what to do? Lots of women I know try to work out what everyone in the group wants/needs, then make the decisions about what they will do based on that. Whereas my blokie mates think of what they want/need to do and make their decisions based on that? I do know plenty of exceptions to this, by the way!
climbingpixie - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Oi, I'm a bit taller than that!

Seriously, no I didn't think to ask why he seemed surprised, it seemed obvious that it was because I'm a woman. Maybe I'm wrong but as I said above, I've had that reaction before when at the crag.
tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to climbingpixie:
> (In reply to tlm)
>
> I've not climbed in an all female group but I have climbed in a pair with other women and I've not found a marked difference in the dynamic. To me the biggest factor is probably experience/ability level - I'm probably more assertive if I'm climbing with someone at the same sort of level as me, whereas I'd perhaps defer more to someone who climbed harder.

Yeah - you could be right there - if I was taking a less experienced bloke out, I would probably make more of the decisions....

tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to climbingpixie:

> Seriously, no I didn't think to ask why he seemed surprised, it seemed obvious that it was because I'm a woman. Maybe I'm wrong but as I said above, I've had that reaction before when at the crag.

Me too... but then maybe that is because I actively look for discrimination and see it where there is none, what with being a feminist, vegetarian, huggy lesbian whale stroker who is always on the defensive.... ;-)

Blue Straggler - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to climbingpixie:

I'd assumed that it was obvious; I meant that asking the question would be intended to pose him a bit of a challenge, make him think about why he's expressed surprise. In a nice way.
GrahamD - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Bulls Crack:

> But how do you determine that short of asking all women climbers?

Its easy to determine by observation - the reason behind it (and whether there is anything that can or should be done about it) is open to debate.

Whether a women only debate is useful we will have the wait and see. It really depends on whether a) its because of the way men behave or b) its because of the way women behave.
Blue Straggler - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to Blue Straggler)
> [...]
>
> Oh - it was just the assumptions that you made in that post...

What assumptions did I make?

> You seem sort of tetchy today - everything alright?

I'm not tetchy. I'm just trying to get people to think before jumping to any conclusions. I do it all the time.

horsefeathers on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth: The women are out there! I think the Edinburgh University Mountaineering Club has more women than men! Generally speaking however, I do notice that there are fewer women climbing in older age groups, particularly outdoors.

It is a good point that women can be quite passive, I probably do this myself and should try to have a bit more resolve. After all I should have equal respect from my male climbing friends! I find it can be especially difficult to get psyched in a group of loud, boisterous, testosterone driven guys!

I think if you look at certain age groups you'd probably notice differences in gender ratios as well, but that is a whole different discussion. In comparison to how many females go winter climbing there are loads of women climbers around!
Pero - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to climbingpixie: To get out climbing regularly, you have to be quite focused on climbing as an end in itself and as something very important in life. My take on this is that women, in general, are more balanced than men and don't as easily become obsessed with something like climbing. Yes, this is a stereotype, and of course there are exceptions, but I recognise this "obsessive" characteristic in myself that I think far fewer women have. The obsessive detail of a guidebook, the nerdiness of the names of climbs, keeping a logbook all bear the male hallmark.

Indoor climbing is something quite different: a test of physical and mental ability, requiring much less obsessiveness to do regularly and much easier to fit into a balanced lifestyle
tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to GrahamD:

> Whether a women only debate is useful we will have the wait and see. It really depends on whether a) its because of the way men behave or b) its because of the way women behave.

It doesn't have to be either of these - it can be all sorts of other things, roles in society, historical reasons, cultural reasons or a mix of the whole lot.

Does it matter if there are not many women, as long as everyone is happy about that being the case?

timjones - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler:
> (In reply to tlm)
>
> Regardless of the genders of both antagonist and protagonist, if the antagonist is a stranger then the protagonist should be welcome to ask why the antagonist is surprised.

Antagonist and protagonist?

Remind me never to talk to anyone on the crag again. It's not worth it if people have such huge chips on their shoulders that they are going to take the hump over a simple conversational gambit. What a sad world we live in these days ;(
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tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to horsefeathers:
> It is a good point that women can be quite passive, I probably do this myself and should try to have a bit more resolve. After all I should have equal respect from my male climbing friends!

I don't feel as though I get any less respect for being more passive. I know that I have my own role in our own little group and am quite an assertive person in many other ways. I sometimes think that it just makes it easier for a group to decide where to go and what to do if I don't have any particular preference myself, so why make up a preference in a bid to be less passive?
tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to climbingpixie)
> [...]
>
> Having climbed with you, you would piss The Moon.

heh - that's where all the women are. Climbing with you, Al.

Blue Straggler - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to timjones:
> (In reply to Blue Straggler)
> [...]
>
> Antagonist and protagonist?

I was trying to keep it gender neutral so as not to offend :-)
Lukeva - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth: This thread surprises me somewhat, perhaps because I am lucky enough to know and climb with a good mix of both sexes.

Having said that, I have never paid much attention to the percentage split between the guys and girls at different crags. Casting my mind back, I certainly always remember lots of ladies (perhaps they remain more obvious in my memory).

I know several pairs of lady climbers who get out regularly and climb together, and several mixed pairs. Admittedly, the mixed pairs usually have male leaders.
GrahamD - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to tlm:

> It doesn't have to be either of these - it can be all sorts of other things, roles in society, historical reasons, cultural reasons or a mix of the whole lot.

Agreed. Even more reason why a womens only debat on the matter is unlikely to find an answer.

> Does it matter if there are not many women, as long as everyone is happy about that being the case?

No, I don't think it does - provided there is no active discrimination against any groups. Personally I am against actively promoting climbing - I would rather people got into because they have a genuine desire for it.

horsefeathers on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to horsefeathers)
> [...]
>
> I sometimes think that it just makes it easier for a group to decide where to go and what to do if I don't have any particular preference myself, so why make up a preference in a bid to be less passive?

I'm not talking about making up a preference, just voicing my own opinions and suggestions. I usually just go with the general consensus of the group, particularly as I haven't been climbing that long and maybe I'm not the best informed. If I'm climbing with just my partner though, I don't particularly want to go to places where there aren't any routes within my grade of leading etc. I don't think I get taken seriously sometimes which would explain why I feel the need to be more assertive. I have goals too! :)

staceyjg - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:

I've had similar responses to climbing pixie when out leading, and I have on many occasion, been climbing as a pair of female climbers, I think pretty much 50% of my group of friends are females, but with the weather the way it's been this year, I've not really had that much psyche to get out and do stuff. Still been going to the wall, but just not got outside much this year! But there are still a few of us around! :-)
tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to GrahamD:

> Personally I am against actively promoting climbing - I would rather people got into because they have a genuine desire for it.

Me too. I do think sometimes there can be things which unwittingly discourage certain groups from participating in something (for example, ethnic minorities in the police), so it's always worth having a look to see how people in the minority feel about the activity and if there is something that is not getting noticed though...

tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to horsefeathers:
> (In reply to tlm)
I don't think I get taken seriously sometimes which would explain why I feel the need to be more assertive. I have goals too! :)

Make that ticklist!!

Wiley Coyote - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to climbingpixie:
> (In reply to Blue Straggler)
>
> Oi, I'm a bit taller than that!
>
> I didn't think to ask why he seemed surprised, it seemed obvious that it was because I'm a woman.

Since the whole thread is about how comparatively few women seem to lead trad why are you surprised that he was surprised that you did?

maria85 - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Pero:
The obsessive detail of a guidebook, the nerdiness of the names of climbs, keeping a logbook all bear the male hallmark.
>
I'm not sure about this - I'll spend my free time flicking through guidebooks, have been known to choose climbs purely based on their names, and am fairly obsessive with keeping a logbook. I know very few males who do any of these things (infact, my male partner usually leaves crag and route choice to me, as he just isn't really interested in reading guidebooks beforehand and picks his routes more based on the line once we're already there - he climbs slightly harder than me and does an equal amount of leading). I'm certainly not the only girl I know with a guidebook/logbook obsession! Of course, everyone, male or female, is different, whether they just want to get out and climb and focus purely on that, or write everything down too and study guidebooks.

I think of all the climbers I know, roughly half are female, maybe a bit less. This doesn't include any 'indoor only' climbers. Despite this, there's a definite grade imbalance between sexes of climbers I know - certainly more of the guys are regularly climbing higher grades than the girls - although there are exceptions of course.

I've never climbed as an all-female group, but then I rarely climb in a group at all and wouldn't seek it out. My main partner is male, but then he's also my boyfriend. Out of the top 15 partners in my UKC logbook, only one is female. Do I climb differently with girls than guys? Maybe. I think though it's much more dependent on my partner's experience than their gender. With my boyfriend, I tend to be assertive when it comes to route choice and pushing myself a bit, yet tend to rely on him to finish something if I can't (as he is stronger - this could be seen as both good and bad though depending on your viewpoint). With the above mentioned female partner I am less dependent on her to get me out of a sticky situation (we are pretty much an even match in grade/experience) - but possibly lower my objectives slightly because of this. I've had male partners that I am very passive with (as they are harder climbers and more experienced), but also ones where I make all the calls and lead every pitch (as I'm the more experienced climber).


ChrisJD on 17 Oct 2012

Is it the view of some UKCers that the lack of women at crags is 'mens' fault?
Noelle - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:

It might be a regional phenomenon, possibly? Or simply coming down to a game of numbers?

I live in Ireland now and see more women out on the crags here than I did in the UK (I climbed in Yorkshire/Peak areas mostly). I've met more female MLs leading groups and soloing routes in Dalkey Quarry than anywhere else!

However, the numbers of climbers themselves are teeny compared to the UK, and the number of crags are a lot less too. Climbers get concentrated into a few areas.

Plus, at least half of the female climbers I know here are Polish/Lithuanian/Italian so coming from slightly different cultural backgrounds. There is a strong internet company base in Dublin which favours speakers of foreign languages to fill their jobs. Perhaps there are less foreign climbers in the UK? (I don't have figures for this, so it's just a personal observation and might well be wrong!!)
Ava Adore - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to climbingpixie:
> (In reply to Blue Straggler)
>
> Oi, I'm a bit taller than that!
>
Yeah...in your high heels, wench ;-)

Jonny2vests - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:

In my experience, women are a bunch of girls.
Ava Adore - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to tlm:

Whenever doubts are expressed about his gender, Blue dons short skirts to climb. Really.

Last time I climb with Blue in a while......

;-)
Simon4 - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to ChrisJD:

> Is it the view of some UKCers that the lack of women at crags is 'mens' fault?

It is the view (nay, certainty) of feminists/guadianistas that EVERYTHING is men's fault.
Timmd on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to timjones:
> (In reply to Blue Straggler)
> [...]
>
> Antagonist and protagonist?
>
> Remind me never to talk to anyone on the crag again. It's not worth it if people have such huge chips on their shoulders that they are going to take the hump over a simple conversational gambit. What a sad world we live in these days ;(

I'd carry on being yourself and hope people don't take offence. I'm a generally helpfull person to everybody male or female, and have noticed I seem to need to be more subtle/tactfull in offering help to females in outdoor conservation sometimes, especially if it's something mechanical it seems, because it's largely men who work in the sector, it seems like women can tend to not want to be seen as the 'helpless female' as it were. Which is perfectly understandable.

oddtoast on 17 Oct 2012
Could it be influenced by how you get into climbing in the first place, and how you learn the basics? A couple of you climb with boyfriends - did you start at the same time, or was one of you already a climber/try it first? I know I've met quite a few women who have mentioned they got into climbing via their boyfriends, but none the other way round.(Not that I go around quizzing people so only an idea!)

Are women are less likely to spontaneously decide to take up climbing, than men, or choose to develop it into a regular hobby (i.e inclination). Or is it a case of things then putting them off, such as knowing fewer experienced female climbers, or attitudes of other people (i.e barriers)?

*shrugs*
tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Simon4:

> It is the view (nay, certainty) of feminists/guadianistas that EVERYTHING is men's fault.

Goodness! I would consider myself a feminist, but don't agree with that statement at all. In fact, other feminists also argue that:

" Feminism is mainly focused on women's issues, but because feminism seeks gender equality, some feminists argue that men's liberation is a necessary part of feminism, and that men are also harmed by sexism and gender roles."
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tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to oddtoast:
> Could it be influenced by how you get into climbing in the first place, and how you learn the basics? A couple of you climb with boyfriends - did you start at the same time, or was one of you already a climber/try it first?

I started climbing myself. I was married at the time and my husband had no interest at all. I lived in the South (no crags!) so had to watch carefully how much I climbed and with who (most climbers at the time were men) so that he didn't think I was just off with other men every weekend!

> I know I've met quite a few women who have mentioned they got into climbing via their boyfriends, but none the other way round.(Not that I go around quizzing people so only an idea!)

My current hubby (blimy - I get through them!) got into climbing through his girlfriend at the time.

I've had male partners asked if I learned to climb through them, but no one has ever asked the question the other way around of me...

Timmd on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to Simon4)

> " Feminism is mainly focused on women's issues, but because feminism seeks gender equality, some feminists argue that men's liberation is a necessary part of feminism, and that men are also harmed by sexism and gender roles."

Indeedy, some men can feel bad about not matching up to what society sees as traditionally the man's role.
tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Timmd:

> Indeedy, some men can feel bad about not matching up to what society sees as traditionally the man's role.

...and things like laws that give maternity leave, but not equal parental leave (to only be taken by one parent, but it could be the man or the woman) don't exactly enable men to stay at home with young babies.

Alyson - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to ChrisJD:
>
> Is it the view of some UKCers that the lack of women at crags is 'mens' fault?

Only the men who stand at the base of crags waving pitchforks at any women who approach and scent-marking the occasional boulder. The rest of you are off the hook.
oddtoast on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to tlm:

Thanks for your reply, which brings up another thing, the joke about spending all your time with other men! Yes, it's something that we joke about (my non-climbing partner and I do) but it is a potential tension that a male climber is less likely to come across unless he climbs with mostly women or has a male partner. The little things like that, or not feeling comfortable being a minority in a group (doesn't bother me, but can see how it might some people) might not be barriers in themselves but might discourage *some* women climbing when they are all added together.
maria85 - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to oddtoast:
> Could it be influenced by how you get into climbing in the first place, and how you learn the basics? A couple of you climb with boyfriends - did you start at the same time, or was one of you already a climber/try it first? I know I've met quite a few women who have mentioned they got into climbing via their boyfriends, but none the other way round.

I can't think of anyone I know who has got into climbing via their other half, male or female, short of just trying it a few times but not continuing. I know plenty of couples who climb together (myself included) but all of the people involved have climbed previous to meeting each other (usually meeting through climbing). Whether they've got into it in a previous relationship, I couldn't answer! Personally, I started climbing through my own initiative age 14 or so (inside, kids learn to climb club), and developed my interest through Scouts and a few kind mentor types I met through my canoe club (who were all male!).

What is the main path for people to get into climbing? Is it through uni clubs, Scouts etc, general interest leading to taking courses? I don't know, but the predominant reason(s) may provide some kind of indication as to why there are more males involved generally?

Kemics - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:

I've not found many women climbing trad. But climbing sport, one of my climbing groups had probably more women that men. And they climbed hard too. Used to get the burly ones to warm up on my projects so I can have the draws in :P

...I do see women leading. However, I never have, nor do I ever expect to see a women at the front of a tandem bicycle and a man on the back :) ...ever
SGD - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to oddtoast: Interestingly when I started climbing I climbed mostly with girls (as friends) and a non climbing female friend confided in me one day and told me that alot of women that could have been potential l love interests may find it quite daunting the amount of time I spent with and talking about my female climbing friends. I was completely oblivious to this and even ignored the comment at the time, it only dawned on me at a later date.
tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to oddtoast:
> (In reply to tlm)
>
> Thanks for your reply, which brings up another thing, the joke about spending all your time with other men!

I mainly got around it by only climbing with a club. So going off for the weekend with a club is a lot less threatening than me going off for the weekend with another man.

Of course, my climbing partners at the time WERE all men! (there really weren't many women climbing at the time and the only other one's in the club climbed with their male partners). He never really said how he felt about this, but was a bit odd about it at times, so maybe he hated it?

It did mean that I only got to climb outside once a month, at the club meet, which was VERY frustrating at the time! (when I had just started climbing and was as keen as mustard).

Part of what I love about climbing is the blokie atmosphere, being able to be scruffy, get mucky, be self reliant, be bold and sometimes a bit reckless etc.
ChrisJD on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to tlm:

> Part of what I love about climbing is the blokie atmosphere, being able to be scruffy, get mucky, be self reliant, be bold and sometimes a bit reckless etc.

LOL - You mean the opposite of girly.....



In reply to Simon4:
> (In reply to ChrisJD)
>
> [...]
>
> It is the view (nay, certainty) of feminists/guadianistas that EVERYTHING is men's fault.

And it's the view of Simon4 that EVERYTHING is "Guardianistas'" fault...
Alyson - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Submit to Gravity:
> (In reply to Simon4)
> [...]
>
> And it's the view of Simon4 that EVERYTHING is "Guardianistas'" fault...

Isn't it just? :)
tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Submit to Gravity:
> (In reply to Simon4)

> And it's the view of Simon4 that EVERYTHING is "Guardianistas'" fault...

NOOOO!!!! Some of it is the feminists fault...

Alyson - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to tlm: ... or Hairy Ugly Man-Destroying Feminists, to give us our full title ;)
Simon4 - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Alyson:
> Hairy Ugly Man-Destroying Feminists, to give us our full title ;)

Who are extremely adept at starting a fight in an empty room, when not holding syposiums to lament their victimhood and non-existent downtroden state.

If you want to climb, go out and climb, no-one and nothing is stopping you. If you don't, don't, no-body will drag you to a crag shouting and screaming.

But you could try stopping whining about complete non-problems and imagined wrongs, or you really do ask to be told that your place is pregnant, barefoot, in the kitchen (and probably wearing a burkha). There are people in the world who have real, tangible problems, women in the UK who want to climb (or say they want to), aren't among them. Because if they want to, they can.

Monk - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Simon4:
> (In reply to Alyson)
> [...]
>

>
> women in the UK who want to climb (or say they want to), aren't among them. Because if they want to, they can.

But there is a massive difference between your position and women feeling comfortable and welcomed in what may be seen as a male-dominated activity. I'm not sure anyone is saying it is a massive problem, just that there is an interesting discrepancy in participation of the various aspects of climbing.
Alyson - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Simon4:
> Who are extremely adept at starting a fight in an empty room

Talking of which, can you point to anywhere where it's been stated that women are prevented from climbing by men? Or where women are whining about being downtrodden? Because if you can't then that little rant was a rather sad waste of valuable megabytes.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:

Based on last month's credit card statement and the number of female waterproofs/fleeces/boots etc cluttering our flat my guess is the women are gear shopping.
Anna G - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:
I haven't read all the messages so what i'm going to say may have been said. But i think there are more women climbing but maybe not as many that are climbing trad probably for quite a few reasons. I deffinatley prefer climbing with other women especially on trad. This is because some (not all) men i have climbed with like to take the role of being in charge and thinking they know best which can sometimes be patronising and as said earlier get the first route of the day. where as climbing with other women i just feel equal and more of a positive vibe and also more supportive of each other. Also if you climb at a similar level or harder i think men can often feel intimidated by this and may bring on a negative competitive feel. I'm not saying this about all men but women may find it hard to get into trad if all she is doing is seconding as it maybe hard to get the "bug" - if someone is supported and encouraged to lead they you may have more female trad climbers. I have been very lucky to have supportive parents who got me into trad climbing.
tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Simon4:

> Who are extremely adept at starting a fight in an empty room, when not holding syposiums to lament their victimhood and non-existent downtroden state.


:-) I didn't notice anyone fighting, lamenting, claiming to be victims or whining? In fact, I noticed quite a few positive comments?
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Ava Adore - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Simon4:
> (In reply to Alyson)
> [...]
>
> Who are extremely adept at starting a fight in an empty room, when not holding syposiums to lament their victimhood and non-existent downtroden state.
>
>
That would be "symposia". Women's Climbing Symposium is a Symposium for victims? Gosh. I hope the organisers realise that.
Blue Straggler - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Ava Adore:
> (In reply to Simon4)
> [...]
> That would be "symposia".

Not really. "Symposiums" is widely accepted as a plural form of "symposium".
But don't you worry about it, that's all man talk.
BelleVedere on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:

<waves>

think i bumped into you guys at the top of phantom rib?

what a lovely day that was - still etched in my brain.

anyhow hello again
clochette - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth: From what I see in the magazines and indeed reported on this site there are loads of British women climbing very hard. Things have really changed in the last 20 years. I am surprised to read the comments on this thread. Maybe they are all out in Kalymnos kicking ass. Seriously I really think women are well represented at the crags and if they are not there it's just because on that day they were busy.
Women do not need to climb with each other to climb well and to be satisfied with their climbing. Some actually enjoy climbing with their husbands strange though that may seem!
In fact on this very note I had been wondering why there is a Women's Climbing Symposium? This was maybe needed two decades ago but surely not now? What would we say if there was a Men's Climbing Symposium?
Roberttaylor - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:
> Where are you all?


In the kitchen, making me a sammich.
Ava Adore - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to Blue Straggler:
> (In reply to Ava Adore)
> [...]
>
> Not really. "Symposiums" is widely accepted as a plural form of "symposium".

Clumsy and untidy. Like men. ;-)

I'll stick with the elegant symposia.
tlm - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to clochette:

> Women do not need to climb with each other to climb well and to be satisfied with their climbing. Some actually enjoy climbing with their husbands strange though that may seem!

I don't think I've seen anyone anywhere suggest that women don't enjoy climbing with men? I most certainly do! It's just a different experience to climb with women and one that some women don't get a lot of chance to experience.

> In fact on this very note I had been wondering why there is a Women's Climbing Symposium? This was maybe needed two decades ago but surely not now? What would we say if there was a Men's Climbing Symposium?

It's quite different organising the chance for a minority to spend time with each other. Do you think that men don't get to climb with other men, or share climbing experience with other men very much then?

Ali - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth: Hello! <waves>

Ok, so to be fair I have mostly been doing sport this year...but that's mainly due to time, closest places to climb and my goals. Nexst year will def be more trad.

I think there are several reasons why fewer women climb than men, including:
- women I think tend to have a high sense of self preservation and risk, which may perhaps result in being less likely to push themselves trad climbing on lead or have less confidence in doing so
- possibly some women feel intimidated by starting off in a male dominated sport (some walls, though certainly not all can sometimes feel quite macho). Most of the female climbers I know are quite 'strong' women
- men are perhaps more likely to dedicate a lot of their time to a sport, and continue doing so as they get older whereas women may be more likely to drop this when other aspects of life change (e.g. having children, caring for elderly relatives)
- and simply that it may be a more 'male' sport - i.e. men simply enjoy it more than women!

These are obviously all very general statements, but I don't think there is one reason - I think its a combination of a lot of different factors.
girlymonkey - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:
I don't buy the women being intimidated when climbing with men / being passive partners etc. That's nonsense.
However, I have noticed that I have very few female friends in the outdoors, not just climbing.
I have noticed that I am at the age where many of my friends are popping out sprogglets, and it seems that they do nothing but sprogglety things for many years once they appear. The dads of the sprogglets still go out, and the women stay at home child minding. As climbing is very time consuming and many crags are not suitable to let the little ones roam freely, I think this is one reason why there are fewer women.
Just personal observation, maybe this is not the same in all social circles.
Blue Straggler - on 17 Oct 2012
In reply to girlymonkey:
> (In reply to janeth)

> I have noticed that I am at the age where many of my friends are popping out sprogglets, and it seems that they do nothing but sprogglety things for many years once they appear. The dads of the sprogglets still go out, and the women stay at home child minding.

When I was in Buoux for 4 or 5 days last year, there were several young French couples climbing as part of different small groupe (or in one case, the same small group), with their babies who looked barely a year old, content in little sun shelters, always with one parent close by.
Some friends of mine, a climbing couple, once took me out to Yarncliffe with their 9-month-old daughter in tow on a damp March day, and we had a nice time doing a few routes.

KiwiPrincess - on 18 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:

Maybe here...4 women and one chap at the cliff I went to last weekend.
sea anenome - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:

For what it's worth, I am the dominant climber in my regular partnership (with my husband). He was an occasional wall climber when we met, and now competently leads HVS. However, I am the dominant climber when it comes to choosing routes, route-finding, general abseil/multi-pitch/mountaineering ropework, and leading the harder pitches. Perhaps I am holding him back in a similar way that some women feel they are held back by climbing with men that like to do most of the leading etc?! Part of this is not wanting to see him get hurt on a dangerous route - I wonder if this is common in husband-wife teams? I would happily let people I am less emotionally-attached to take the sharp end on the dodgy pitch!

I always want to lead, and was always encouraged to do as much as I wanted when learning to climb. Interestingly, once I started to climb with less-experienced climbers it was the 'other stuff', such as route-finding on remote crags, which I found daunting; I was used to making decisions on lead, but not taking responsibility for the whole day out.

When meeting other (generally male) teams at the crag I get the impression that they expect my partner to be the dominant climber, but once it becomes apparent that it is me I've never felt patronised, and am treated as just another climber. I've found this to be the same in other walks of life (other sports, career), probably because it comes across that I do not expect to be treated any differently because I am a girl.
hedgepig - on 22 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:
I've been at Stanage with a big Pinnacle group, and all the beardy coves perked up at the sight. No patronising there. But I joined the club at the start when I was a young thing, after I found myself not attempting to lead something that my male climbing partner had backed off - not because I couldn't do it but because it would have annoyed him if I tried. My instinct to hold back was quite well-indoctrinated. This may not be so much of a problem 30 years later, but it's lurking in the background. I don't get out on trad enough myself now (London;wet summer) to get a statisitical observation, and of course if I'm there there's at least one female at the crag.
Hairy, guardianista etc taken as read, of course.
annb - on 24 Oct 2012
Coming late to this one...

In early September, there were lots of us at the Roaches, then quite a few at Pembroke. And whichever of us was the more experienced on that particular rock type did more of the leading.

Speaking personally, this summer has been miserably cold and wet, and I've done less trad than I had hoped or anticipated. But I don't think that's a gendered comment (unless men claim to like being cold and wet more than women do ;-)).
GrahamD - on 24 Oct 2012
In reply to annb:

> And whichever of us was the more experienced on that particular rock type did more of the leading.

I'm intrigued by this - this sounds like a self perpetuating situation to me. Are different rock types that different that people aren't willing to 'give it a go' ?

Just curious as its a mind set I've not come across before
Ava Adore - on 24 Oct 2012
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to annb)
>
> [...]
> Are different rock types that different that people aren't willing to 'give it a go' ?
>

I suspect for the less experienced climber who is only used to climbing on limestone, transferring to grit might feel hard.
pebbles - on 24 Oct 2012
In reply to Ava Adore: and vice versa! if youre used to climbing on grit and other grippy rock, the smoothness of most british limestone takes a lot of getting used to
Natalie feather - on 24 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:

I was climbing on Skye a few months ago leading a route called Trophy crack, I was struggling to begin with being 5 months pregnant and had to down climb to rid myself of my jacket (didn't want to puke all over it), along came an old crusty guide exclaiming it was a good job I had a man with me to step in and take over! ( thankfully I didn't hear him and anyway went on to lead the route no problem) My two female friends were also climbing next to us, and were undecided about which route to do, and again the guide offered his advice when my friend mentioned she hadn't done much multi pitch and what she had done was on slab routes, his advice was that women climb much better on slabs because they have big arses! So there you go, that's where all the women are climbing, on the slabs, of course! Two of my female friends have just got back from climbing El Cap, another friend climbed her first 7c in ceuse and we all continue to crush despite bearing children and having big arses, haven't been back to Bowden for awhile since Dog eat Dog is the only slab climb and the bump outweighs the arse finally!
jon on 24 Oct 2012
In reply to Natalie feather:

And your friends' reply? Sounds like he needs a good slapping.
GrahamD - on 24 Oct 2012
In reply to Ava Adore:

'feeling hard' isn't a reason not to give it a go, surely ? if in doubt drop a grade for a couple of routes
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Ava Adore - on 24 Oct 2012
In reply to GrahamD:

No reason at all
Snoweider - on 24 Oct 2012
In reply to Natalie feather

Brilliant post!

Toby_W on 24 Oct 2012
In reply to Natalie feather:

I was out climbing with my wife and two of her friends one of whom was Leanne Callaghan. I was desperatly hoping a load of other bloke climbers would come along while I was belaying her and make that tpyical assumption that I was the boyfriend/better climbing holding the ropes. They would have though I was a climbing god as at the time she was leading about E6 E7 I think.

Simple things amuse me.

Cheers

Toby
Carolyn - on 24 Oct 2012
In reply to Toby_W:

Oh, so that's why the rescue team blokes have been so happy to let Emma Twyford burn them off in the past. I did wonder ;-)
Enty - on 24 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:

There's a few been wearing their nails down on El Cap this month.
A 2nd free ascent of The Muir Wall, a solo of Zodiac, the women's speed record on The Nose and lots lots more.
It's not that bad.

;-)

E
EllenW - on 24 Oct 2012
In reply to Kemics: most blokes are taller than most women and most/all? tandems are build for the taller person to sit at the front...so most women sit at the back. Question: can you get tandems designed for the taller person to sit at the back?
ceri - on 24 Oct 2012
ebygomm - on 24 Oct 2012
Stephi on 25 Oct 2012
In reply to janeth:

I do prefer to climb with an ambitious female partner when I do sport climbing or single pitch trad. Somehow I am more psyched then and I think girls climb certain routes differently than guys and it's easier to figure out together how to do a certain move.
For multi-pitch trad or winter I really don't care if I have a male or female partner as long as leads are shared equally! I want to spend the day with a partner I can trust and who enjoys the day out, even if we decide to back off a route or do a different route than intended (and this decision needs to be made together). I my opinion, the best climbing partner is one with similar experience, ambition and a mutual understanding of when things start to go wrong and when it's best to change plan or bail. I found this both with male and female climbing partners.
penny_pops25 - on 02 Nov 2012
I think it depends what day you are at the crag, Me and my female climbing partners climb at the weekend and there is usually a good collection of women among us. We all lead (or are learning to). Yes there are guys at the crags, but is that really an issue. Personally i just want someone to climb with who loves climbing as much as me and will belay me safely. Their gender is usually irrelevant.

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