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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Parks Stewardship Forum

UC Berkeley

Where are the women? Towards gender equality in the ranger workforce


The ranger workforce is currently characterized by an extreme gender skew. Exact data—or even reliable estimates—are scarce, but the general understanding is that only 3–11% of the global ranger workforce is female, with considerable local variation (Belecky et al. 2019). Although consideration of the gender context for a workforce often starts with numbers, achieving greater gender balance requires a much more comprehensive understanding of the problems and a wide-net approach to solutions. Bringing women into the ranger workforce is an important human rights and equality goal in itself. Further, there is evidence that women bring skill sets and strengths to the ranger workforce that are different from those of men. Bringing gender equality into the workforce can improve conservation, relationships with communities, park management, and wildlife management. The Chitwan Declaration (World Ranger Congress 2019) commits to broad gender-related goals: gender-equal opportunities in hiring, pay, and promotion in the ranger workforce, as well as appropriate measures to provide safety and support for female rangers. This paper, based in part on interviews with men and women in the current ranger workforce, analyzes the state of the gender imbalance in the ranger workforce, provides a contextual assessment, and advances recommendations for moving towards these Chitwan goals.

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