Are women underrepresented in arboriculture?
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) representation of ‘female arborist’ is difficult to generate as their census does not include ‘arborist’ as a category. However, women account for small proportions of total workers in arborist related fields which are listed in the labour force survey (ONS 2014), including forestry workers, environmental professionals and horticultural trades etc.
International Women’s day is a time to celebrate and recognize the amazing contributions of Arbortec’s female ambassadors and the impact they have had on the arb industry.
We have asked our following ambassadors: Jenna DeAbreu, Cheryl Duerden, Molly Ralph, Megan Bujnowski and Katie Curwen a series of questions; sourcing the secrets of their success, we aim to develop support networks for women who are considering joining the arb industry.
How did you get into the industry?
When I was studying horticulture, I decided I wanted to gain some practical experience. I applied to a tree care company without even knowing what arboriculture was. - Jenna DeAbreu
I was at the National Trust in 2018 for a few years and through being involved in various ecological, wildlife and habitat surveys. I found my passion for woodland management and ancient & veteran trees. I’m currently self-employed in forestry, arboriculture, tree and woodland consultancy and ancient & veteran tree surveying. I’m a committee officer for the Royal Forestry Society and in Summer 2022, I was appointed as a trustee for the Ancient Tree Forum. I author a blog here, here I write about my adventures with trees and share my growing industry experiences through various platforms like podcasts, the BBC as well as guided walks. - Cheryl Duerden
What empowers you?
Doing something I love and hopefully inspiring other young women to join the industry. - Molly Ralph
Helping others succeed and pursue their passions. Sprinkle in some challenging problem solving in trees as well! - Megan Bujnowski
The ability to apply the experiences and knowledge I've gained over the years to solve a problem. - Katie Curwen
Being part of the bigger picture to make a difference in helping our ecosystems thrive and having conversations that change mindsets, which will then carry on to create their own positive impact on nature. - Cheryl Duerden
The people I work with everyday. I have a constant support system at work that cheers me on and encourages me to push myself. Without these people, I would not have as much confidence to learn new skills. - Jenna DeAbreu
What advice would you give to any young aspiring female that is hoping to join the arb industry and aren’t sure how or if they can?
It is important for new arborists to know that even the best started out at the bottom. I always encourage them to keep trying their best, even when they think they can’t do it. As physical as this career is, it also takes a lot of mental strength and determination. - Jenna DeAbreu
I work in various tree-related fields but I am constantly learning. As long as you work with trees, I believe it’s vital to understand their biology, biomechanics, ecology and how they function and exist in their landscape. With this understanding you will then be able to make more informed decisions and have otherwise difficult conversations with others to help steer the industry towards positive change and improvement. Challenge yourself and others, stay humble and never stop learning from positive mentors in the industry. You will always find something that you’re good at. Cheryl Duerden
A cliche but you really can do anything you put your mind to. Find yourself a supportive network of people who are willing to help and progress you to where you want and need to be! Ask many questions and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Make sure you keep at it even if it gets tough, we have ups and downs in this industry, it’s important to acknowledge that and push through it. - Molly Ralph
Reach out to a tribe of like-minded individuals. I don’t know where I’d be without my tree family! Find a mentor that you can trust and rely on and most importantly, come to the table each day with an open mind and an eagerness to learn. Lastly, there are wonderful companies out there that are supportive and encouraging of women in the industry. Don’t settle for less than that. - Megan Bujnowski
Keep trying and let your work speak for itself. Always better yourself and never stop learning. - Katie Curwen
Why should women be reluctant to come into the industry when we have so many fantastic female arborists at Arbortec to look up to? View the Arbortec Women’s collection here.