The Inspirations and Limitations for Women Getting into the Outdoors - Living Adventurously episode #7
Hetty Key combined her industry experience of the Outdoor / Adventure world with her academic background to investigate issues surrounding women in adventure. Hetty is passionate about using data to increase diversity and improve accessibility within the outdoors. Women in Adventure offers a collective voice for women, empowering others through the sharing of information, inspiration and advice. We took refuge from the torrential rain in a cafe to chat. I asked Hetty what she believes limits women getting more involved with the outdoor community. She is an adventurer, an endurance athlete, and a massive data geek. It's a good combination!
Women in Adventure offers a collective voice for women, empowering others through the sharing of information, inspiration and advice.
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- Women in Adventure is an independent research-based organisation focused on empowering women through the sharing of information, inspiration and advice
- Hetty Key is on Instagram as @mudchalkandgears
- Making a pact with a friend to do a weekly 7am swim - began only going in up to her knees
- Adventure of moving from a proper job to pursue her research
- When curiosity and a hobby grows organically into something bigger
- Eventually she was doing so much with her passions that it reached a tipping point to quit her job and go it alone.
- Women in Adventure survey around the inspirations and limitations of women getting into the outdoors
- Mental wellbeing is unanimously improved by being in the outdoors doing sports
- Life satisfaction, happiness, anxiety, worthwhile - different sports help different aspects of these better than others.
- Women worry about looking out of place, about being beginners and looking fools
- A lack of knowledge and information is a common barrier for women wanting to get into adventure
- The importance of relatable role models
what does living adventurously mean to you?
That's, that's a big question. I mean, I think that it is being out of your comfort zone. And so living adventuroulsy for me is... it's not, you know, the types of fun. So type one, type two, it's not always being sort of uncomfortable. But it's consistently trying to push yourself just out of the comfort zone into that. I think it's quite an exciting, I think the definitely challenging moments, really enjoyable moments, but it's just being out of your comfort zone and kind of going and doing the things that when you first think of them, you think, I don't know if I can do that. Okay, so give me an example of your life of adventure you had that does not include being in the mountains, etc. I think so. About two years ago, I was quite short on time, I was doing a lot of work and my kind of work life balance have gone down the drain pipe, so to speak. And friend and I made a pact the 7am once a week, we're going to try and slowly get into a river near because both of us are actually quite nervous about the concept. I like water fascinates me, don't get me wrong. But I would not have jumped in a river like open water was terrifying. It was like, you know, all the monsters on the bottom, like, the feeling of the ground with your feet, like the whole thing, like completely. It was it was very out of my comfort zone. But actually, every every week we went through at seven in the morning. And just gradually the first time I think I went like up to my knees and I was like I'm good enough. And actually we kept going and starting in started in October. And actually we by February, we were we went through the whole winter and it totally changed my outlook and perception on on water and actually something I still do a lot and really, really enjoy. But that was definitely adventure.
Okay, I agree. What about
moving from having a proper job to not have a job? Tell me what you've done
So recently, I took the decision to leave my full time joband actually pursue my research through a company called Women and adventure.
Okay, so we're going to talk about adventure a lot but to pick you up here on the leaving your full time job to go into the freelance or essentially honestly having no job it Yeah, yeah yeahs until Tell me when you put it that way? Well, there's a lot of people who would love to do it. But to tell me about the pros and cons of that.
So I think I think the really important thing to remember, or to know is that I didn't just do this overnight, I didn't wake up and think, Oh, yeah, I'm gonna go get it goes big club, I still say, you know, I quit, I quit. It definitely wasn't bad. This evolved over maybe about three years of just, you know, always had a really strong interest in learning about women in the outdoors. And actually, even simpler than that, just learning. And so something that started as curiosity and a hobby just grew and grew very organically, and I could be the drop that I couldn't leave it and every opportunity where I was like, if I, you know, know, including, for instance, I may be benefited, and I could have a lot more free time. And it would be you know, life would be very easy. But actually, when curiosity every time got the better of me, and I just kept going back and doing more learning and it it gradually grew to a point where I felt, actually, I really need to access again, the work life balance, I need to look at them. And actually, I think viably does enough research and enough to do this, that this is a full time job. And, you know, I looked at I looked at my annual leave and public service and gone toward sitting in front of a computer looking at spreadsheet, I looked at maybe half and I was getting outside and and realised that although I loved everything I was doing, I really enjoyed my job, Rob, I, you know, I love the research I was doing. And I also come on the organiser of the climbing festival. And I really, really enjoyed that too. But there is something to be said, for knowing when you're your limit. And knowing how long, maybe managing all of that was sustainable. So I knew I had some decisions.
So you essentially you have these hobbies and passions that stayed and grew and wouldn't go away wouldn't go away. And you just kept pushing them and pursuing them until you got to the point when something had to give essentially, yeah, you you got to a point where film right, there's just too much to do it. Yeah, job.
And actually, I was so motivated and driven by I mean, I know we're talking about the kind of the research a bit, the number of women that got in touch and the number of storeys are shared and how inspirational they were. I just felt that there was so much there was so much to look at so much to research. And I really wanted to do them justice that women that had responded. And I think sometimes when it comes to surveying and I think questions, yes, you get the answer to your question. But then you end up with 100 more questions.
Yes, definitely. Okay, go and then tell us then now about the survey, you did the star stillness. And this is actually that how you and I first got in touch was yes. Yes, sir. Basically, tell us, give me some brief summary of what that was.
rewinding the beginning, the first minute adventure survey looked at inspiration, first participation and goal setting for women in adventure, if we have women in adventure, and I know so adventure is a you know, we started the conversation talking about what what you know, what is adventure, that is a broad term. And actually, I really wanted with this for people to interpret that, how they felt, if you love the outdoors, and you love enjoying the outdoors, and you engage with the topic, I wanted people to feel they could fill this out.
So what sort of questions we asking people about women of adventure, what was what the kind of questions you were interested in. So
the most recent survey, which is probably one of the areas I'm most passionate about, look at mental well being in the outdoors. So what I wanted to do, I think, instinctively, when we go inside, we will talk about how good it makes us feel you you come back from a run or ride a bike or you know, even just going and watching the sunset, and you just I presume it's better for getting out, you know, I've really got to really clear my head. There's all this kind of feeling in terms of feeling but the outdoors helped select mind, body and soul. But actually, when it came to the data, there wasn't there wasn't very much out there. And something that one of the drivers to me was to be able to put accessible information behind this, I thought that that would really give the opportunity to say activity providers initiatives that are helping women in the outdoors, and their mental well being to prove their worth and to say, look, this is what we're doing. And this is the data that shows it's incredible. And that was a huge driver for me, as well as the curiosity. And then on top of that, I felt that brands and organisations are really trying to shut up and listen and and whilst that is absolutely incredible, I won't actually be based on real data, because I'm like, a bit of a sudden geek, and rather than this like gut feeling. And so it was just that was the starting point for me. Kind of equipping everyone with the knowledge to then learn and grow and take the next steps.
You put out this survey and you got massive response, you guys, and what what did you learn what's what are some give me a few key pointers that you you learned from your survey.
So I think we have to start with the kind of the major headline they speak, which was that 99.6% of women either agree or strongly agreed that the outdoors benefits them into well being. Of course, I felt that that was going to be kind of the overland said that they were degree but to that extent, but so you know when you run that up 100%, which sounds unbelievable. will agree with it. But I was amazing, so high. Interesting as well, if you look at physical well being the same question. So how does the outdoors benefit the physical well being that came out at 97.7. So they're almost on a par? It's normal, it's not that one is greater than the other women are going outside to the food, the mental and the physical benefits. I think historically, we've always kind of like champion the physical benefits. But I was really pleased to see that the mental city kind of equally alongside that.
so what I think that's when you can kind of dive deeper into what the survey looked at. And we looked at sport, so specifically, whether that's like climbing, hiking, biking, and that could be the effect on well being that those sports camps. So that was done using
others. So could it could it be then you could recommend sports for women according to what they're trying to get out of it? I think,
yeah, I think that's certainly one angle audience. Also, on the flip side, looking at maybe where is safer school has slightly higher anxiety than another, maybe that group could have a little more support in a certain way or area. So I think there's the potential for organisations to like, act and support those women is huge.
And what sort of organisations have been interested in what you're doing.
So my main aim is for this data to actually drive real change. I'm not researching for the sake of kind of academia and science, although that is really important to me something I want to work on. I really want this to be accessible data, I want anyone to be able to download a copy of the results haven't read and be able to understand it. And there's a huge amount that you could take from that as a brand or organisation. Or if you're just interested, then then you'll learn a lot to it. It's it's definitely keeping it accessible. So what I'm trying to do in terms of who I'm working with, it's it's working with activity riders, brands and organisations that are looking to really act in those areas. This isn't about kind of massaging marketing statistics and, you know, patting ourselves on the back. It's about actually helping more women get into sport, supporting those in it, and really kind of crafting the way forward in a way that's really positive
for society as a whole. Trying to get trying to get more women doing more adventurous things. interests me, I think it's pretty unanimous that everyone would like to be adventurously. I feel like you haven't done any research this at all, but it's just a kind of got really everyone wants them one eventually. But equally I know, from lots of anecdotal experience that something stops people living as adventurous as they like to invite various different people. So and it's often a lack of time or lack of money. I think there are
three big ones in the first woman and adventure survey, the three barriers that were highlighted this presentation for women with time, work and money. And that was some time ago, and I've been really interesting to look at that again. But I think that's something that we all feel an agreement, it can be, you know, there's three quite basic barriers can be quite limiting. Yeah.
And yeah, time work, I think work actually is kind of the same as time in a way. similar sort of constraint
in kicks, it can vary for women.
Kitty's and from you're listening, and from your, your research, I've been interested in this side of what stops being because there's the there's the time money work, yeah, which I I put them as practical areas. And in my world, as what micro ventures have been deliberately trying to deal with those things. I'm really interested in the internal barriers, the mental barriers that will stop this doing x, y, and Zed, you and I talked earlier about the imposter syndrome. But what what have you noticed about the the internal barriers, store women getting into a friendship? I
think it's, it's quite varied and quite complex. But I think something that can be said can be
Yeah, I completely agree with that. What else any others that you can think of,
think, I think as well fitting in, and, and unlike knowledge. So within the mental well being sadly, there was actually an interesting number of women who spoke about wanting more knowledge, wanting more information. So maybe there is the impetus to go into, but actually there needs to be the support for that as well. And that can come in so many different forms, whether that's, you know, actual literal knowledge, like how to get into a sport, or where to go or what clubs join, or actually, physically when it comes to equipment, having the clothing and equipment for, for the difference. It's such as as a huge amount of belonging that comes from being able to kind of get the things you need to do this book. And that was something specifically voiced by a number of women, especially, who are in the plus size range, they felt there was a lack of clue and equipment for them to go and do and try. And that's sometimes what's holding them back from getting out there. I know it's a catch 22 because you shouldn't need you shouldn't have to have a you know, I
yeah, I understand that.
everyone, enough. And if I had one hour
that I every single day, every single day,
I was not no one to do. Because there's so many things, I'd want to talk to people, I would want to get out there and actually show people and blame and I'd love to be able to just help people help people have get that impetus to go live and encourage.
how then do we
actually do? How do you do this? How would you practically go from having this a nice spreadsheet to actually getting more women up in the hills?
I think a lot of it is about a relatable role model. So you need to you need to know someone or see someone will be influenced in a way and look at women who could be someone, someone I feel that would be you, and you can see yourself in. Actually, they might not be doing exactly what you that you want to do. And they might, they might be doing it at a higher level, but some aspect of their personality or their drive or what they're saying resonates. And if I could find an hour going back to this, if I put more out there that resonated not just from me, but from other women, that would be not being
lazy. Okay, so putting content out into the world. Women like me doing x, y and Zed. And is that something then that? Is that? Is this a job for Brandon, this and their choice of influences?
I think I
think all of us can, I think anyone who has a passion of the outdoors, you know, we're all we're all on social media, we will you know, if we're not on social media, you talk to your friends about what you do. I think it's just
to encourage whether it's friends, family, social media audience, or from branding point of view that that bias that customers will make that efforts and I think would suddenly be this huge wave and
we all need to grab a woman we know. go canoeing, go biking, take try and actively.
Yeah, like Good, good. Like, it doesn't have to be epic. Go show someone what you love, if you love a particular walk because of a view or if you love a field of
Okay, if I gave you a million pounds to go get more women into adventure? What would you do with it? And
I would, it would go into research, I think the
Got it in your pocket? Yeah. Yes.
Okay. And then the final question is, if anyone is listening to this, who's interested in either the women in their friendship project are doing or is a woman wanting to do more adventure work? Where should they go find out.
So if you want to learn more about my resets, and just head over to women in adventure calm, you can download a free, publicly available copy of the results of the survey. And you can also find out more about what I'm looking at now. And and if you're into climbing, you can also check women have festival that's happening, probably not in this weather, but next weekend. And so that
will have happened by the time this comes
out. And it
we find out about that women start festival. So if you're interested starting climbing, learning, climbing, daring to call yourself a climber, that's a good place for that. Definitely.
Thank you very much for talking to me. It's very interesting to talk some adventure well with the brain.