Scrolling through Instagram on the explore page, I found hundreds photos of women reaching the peak of a mountain, thru-hiking a trail, or finishing a climbing route. All these women have a passion for the outdoors and love to be nature.
However, the outdoor industry does not support men and women equally in terms of sponsorships. Looking at three top outdoor clothing brands: Patagonia, The North Face and Arc’teryx. Each company had around one third of the sponsorship going to women, which means two-thirds of sponsorships were going to males. Below I will break down these statistics.
Climbing Male: 21 Female: 8 Total: 29
Fly Fishing Male: 11 Female: 6 Total: 17
Skiing Male: 9 Female: 2 Total: 11
Snowboarding Male: 6 Female: 1 Total: 7
Global Sports activist Male: 4 Female: 0 Total: 4
Surfing Male: 23 Female: 7 Total: 30
Trail running Male: 4 Female: 4 Total: 8
Total for company: Male: 78 Female: 28 Total: 106
Percentages: Male: 74% Female: 26%
The North Face: https://www.thenorthface.com/about-us/athletes.html
Climbers Male: 16 Female: 9 Total: 25
Skiers Male: 7 Female: 4 Total: 11
Snowboarders Male: 6 Female: 2 Total:8
Runners Male: 6 Female: 4 Total: 10
Total for company: Male: 35 Female: 19 Total: 54
Percentages: Male: 65% Female: 35%
Ski Male: 16 Female: 5 Total: 21
Snowboard Male: 2 Female: 0 Total: 2
Alpine Climbing Male: 11 Female: 1 Total: 12
Running Male: 2 Female: 1 Total: 3
Iced & mixed climbing: Male: 3 Female: 1 Total: 4
Rock Climbing Male: 11 Female: 5 Total: 16
Photography Male: 7 Female: 1 Total: 8
Total for company: Male: 52 Female: 14 Total: 66
Percentages: Male: 79% Female: 21%
As a female, I love to see other women doing extraordinary task and usually my biggest role models are women. These sports sponsorship allow young girls to see other females doing great things, showing what the young girls might one day be able to do. However, these brands are not giving an equally amount of sponsorship to both male and females.
So why is this?
To be honest, I am not completely sure. Why would a company not want to empower a new generation of young girls?
I was able to find a Forbes article written by Patrick Rishe titled “The Simple Reason Why Men Win The Battle Of The Sexes For Athlete Endorsement Income.” This article addresses many mainstream competition sports which is different then these outdoor sports; however, the article points out that women are not given as much visibility in sports, therefore they will get paid less.
Yes, this makes sense, but, the author fails to realize that society should give women an equal amount of attention in sports. It should not only be about male athletics. If companies were willing to us and promote women athletes at the same level they do for men, it could change the societal norms.
In today's age, brands have a huge power over consumer wants and needs. So if Patagonia was to give an equal amount of sponsorships to women it would bring light to more women in the sports and the outdoor community.
Why it should change.
From a public relations standpoint, Patagonia or any other outdoor brand would be ahead of other companies by giving an equal amount of endorsements. It would bring positive attention to the company. Also it would allow the company to build on the endorsement and address why it is important to give equal sponsorships.
This would be similar to the World Surf League (worldsurfleague) giving equally pay to men and women in competitions. It was great press for the sport and it made more people aware of the sport. Giving equal pay to women in a sport is a change that should and hopefully will come.
One way to start this change is through brands giving and paying sponsorships for an equal number of women athletes as they do for men.