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Women in Forestry: Jean Nairn

To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, we interviewed a number of our female members who are excelling in our profession. Jean Nairn is a Technical Support Manager at Scottish Woodlands.

What do you love most about your job?

Trees!  The opportunity to work with a variety of people, and to be in the woods among the trees where they are storing carbon among many other things.

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, digital mapping 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 and timber 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 our 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 women would be expected to do, e.g. marketing, teaching, social care, fashion. ICF 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. ICF should consider branching out  when advertising job vacancies so that potential candidates see the option of forestry in more mainstream press/networks. Also, it may be useful to understand how best to categorise ‘forestry’ when advertising jobs on an online portal.

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