Date of Award

1-1-2000

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Science

School

School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure

Faculty

Faculty of Business and Public Management

First Advisor

Dr Sue Colyer

Second Advisor

Lekkie Hopkins,

Abstract

This study explored the experiences of women working in the adventure recreation industry in Western Australia. Ten women employed in the local adventure recreation industry were selected as a cross-section sample. Selection criteria for this study included employment in the industry for more than five years, competency in several adventure recreation activities and extensive field experience in "hands-on" instructional roles. The women selected ranged in age from twenty-seven to fifty years of age. Years of employment in the adventure recreation industry ranged from five to thirty years. The purpose of this study was to describe the realities of working in the adventure recreation industry; explore the shared meanings held by the women about being a woman employed in adventure recreation; and investigate issues relating to women and non-traditional employment, in particular the adventure recreation industry. Research questions addressed access to employment, attraction of the adventure recreation industry, the meanings associated with women working in adventure recreation, and the influence of gender on their working experience. Interpretive interactionism was chosen as the qualitative research method. Two in-depth interviews were conducted with each of the women. The first interview sought answers to the research questions. The second interview provided an opportunity to clarify emergent themes and ensure the data interpretation was valid. Feminist poststructural theory guided the research process as it focused on power relationships, subjectivity and resistance, and was concerned with disrupting or displacing dominant discourses. The principal findings of this study related to the difficulties of meeting the physical and emotional demands of working in the adventure recreation industry. Lack of recognition of the responsibilities placed on women working in the adventure recreation industry was a major area of concern. Many of the women in this study felt that the perception that their job was easy and enjoyable did not meet the reality of their working life. Lack of adequate financial remuneration was also a major concern. It was felt that the remuneration offered by the industry was insufficient to compensate for its demands. Many women worked long hours and spent extended periods of time away from home, often to the detriment of social and family interactions. Lack of recognition and financial reward was compensated by the diverse range of opportunities offered for personal challenge and flexibility in working arrangements. Many of the women in this study acknowledged a close affinity with the natural environment and expressed their enjoyment of being active outdoors. Sharing their knowledge of technical skills, demonstrating how to appreciate the natural environment and be comfortable outdoors were major factors in career satisfaction. The adventure recreation industry has traditionally adopted male-defined attitudes and practices. Gender-based discrimination was often tolerated and seldom challenged. The predominance of masculine values within the adventure recreation industry has made it difficult for women to attain positions of power and influence. It was recognised that the position for women within the Western Australian adventure recreation industry was changing. As more women enter the adventure recreation workplace, traditional values are being challenged. The women in this study were moving into managerial and administrative positions and were gaining the power to create new opportunities and workplace environments that met the needs of women.

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