Case study: Jean Nairn

Hester McQueen interviews Jean Nairn for International Women's Day #ILookLikeAForester

Jean Nairn

The Institute’s Marketing Manager, Hester McQueen, interviewed Jean Nairn for 2019 International Women’s Day to highlight women excelling in our profession. Help us encourage people to join our profession and make it more diverse by joining the #ILookLikeAForester campaign. Find out how you can get involved >>

Jean Nairn, Technical Support Manager, Scottish Woodlands

What do you love most about your job?

The opportunity to work with down to earth people, and be in the woods among the trees.

Why choose forestry?

Forestry is a great STEM career choice for those that like the outdoors and are fascinated by the magic of trees and the many benefits they offer, as well as being computer literate and a good communicator. There are a wide variety of job types across the industry, something to suit everyone, from nurseries, forest management and harvesting, safety and health, recreation, policy, and processing timber as well as opportunities in rural communities or an urban setting, and private, public or NGO sector. The industry can help in mitigating climate change in locking up carbon in growing trees and offers a great building material, so it’s great to be part of an industry which can offer economic, environmental and social benefits.

How can ICF support women in forestry and arboriculture?

ICF can support women in forestry and arboriculture by giving inspiration of role models to young people to encourage them to join the industry. On a practical level, ICF could help to ensure that PPE can be purchased in sizes appropriate to all in the industry whether female or male, e.g. smaller boot/clothing sizes, and for a women’s fit. When women’s magazines cover successful business women/entrepreneurs, they don’t tend to consider those managing land and perhaps someone might be inspired to try a different career if they are inspired by someone from a different sector to more traditional jobs ladies would be expected to do, e.g. marketing, sales, care, fashion. We could work with other organisations in the land-based/engineering sectors which are trying to encourage women, for example, Women in Agriculture, NFUS / Young Farmers’ Clubs, RICS, any women in STEM/engineering networks.

What can professional organisations like the ICF do to attract a more diverse workforce?

ICF can help to attract a more diverse workforce by speaking to students studying appropriate disciplines to highlight options available and to encourage students at school to consider STEM subjects that would fit with a career in the industry. We should think about widening the net when advertising job vacancies so that potential candidates see the option of forestry. Also, we need to understand how best to categorise forestry when advertising on an online portal.


Women across the profession will be posting images on social media of themselves on International Women’s Day to illustrate their work and the inspiring role they play. Follow the conversation #ILookLikeAForester