International Women’s Day
From just making the tea to cheese and wine making
Today I was invited by the Chalk, Cherries and Chairs Landscape Partnership Scheme to celebrate the working women of the Chilterns at a new conference for International Women’s Day, on Wednesday 8th March 2023.
The conference celebrated women who excelled in traditional crafts, skills and work found in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), where the official records tell us that the development of a modern local economy was driven by the men of the High Wycombe furniture trade, agricultural merchants and landowning farmers. The lives and critical importance of contributions made by working women in this area is often overlooked. This is true of the tourism industry. The world over.
Women in tourism
Women dominate the travel and tourism sector; as employees, managers or business owners, due in part to flexible and seasonal working. My experience tells me it’s the creativity, innovative and collaborative nature of the sector that appeals because these are attributes women are typically good at.
I asked friends and colleagues - conservationists, food producers, designers, a tour operator, marketing comms, a farmer and artists to share a personal memory of working in the tourism industry; this is what they told me.
Being expected to bake cakes & make tea, by default…not being truthful about admin skills to avoid being pigeon-holed into taking and typing meeting minutes.
Needlessly holding back and not putting myself forward.
Needing role models and to be part of a network and team.
Looking for collaboration and business introductions - not always easy.
Having to pretend I didn’t have a family or caring responsibilities whilst at work!
Despite working on my own, I was turning out the work of a multi-staff agency.
I have noticed a cultural shift with more women establishing themselves in traditional male occupations including; vintners, shepherds, cheese-makers, intrepid walk leaders, cycle tour operators, farmers and photographers.
How collaborative and supportive everyone that I’ve encountered is.
The ambition to work together to raise the destination profile and promote activities in the area makes working here a pleasure.
I have a passion for helping women discover the countryside by introducing map reading and navigation skills that empower them to be more confident to get outside, planning and navigating their own routes without relying on others.
We work together on exhibitions at the studios and also all have our independent outlets - to do this in such a harmonious group despite our very different artistic genres and skills is really wonderful.
Responses that reflect our community whilst recognising challenges, some that will always be there - hopefully not having to make the tea, but are still able to make a positive and innovative contribution to the modern local visitor economy.
Role models, each and every one
From just making the tea and taking the minutes, to making the cheese and wine, let’s celebrate their success. Our success! When we are out and about in our local area, let’s look for women-owned and run businesses that we can support and recommend to our friends and family, follow and share their content on social media, give feedback and leave reviews. It really helps and is appreciated. I know!
And if you are a women-owned or run business, be sure to fill the ‘about me’ section of your website with your story and news of your business and its products.
I will be visiting some of these businesses in future newsletters. Subscribe for free to receive new posts and inspiration.
Links you will need
You will find many of the business included here on the Visit Chilterns website.
Chalk, Cherries and Chairs is an innovate project that invites people to learn something new, get involved and take action and become Chilterns Champions.
Celebrate women's achievement and raise awareness about discrimination and take action to drive gender parity: 2023 themes for International Women’s Day #EmbraceEquity #IWM23
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