The Role of Gender as it Relates to Confidence among University Outdoor Programs' Staff


  • Eric Frauman Appalachian State University
  • Jessica Washam Appalachian State University


Historically the great outdoors has been considered a man's domain and thus males by extension are thought to be more confident than females. Lee (2001) suggested, that it is more difficult for women to feel confident when engaged in an activity seen to be inappropriate for their gender. Johnson (2003) observed that women typically do not perform well in ego-oriented environments, instead preferring task-oriented environments where the standards used are perceived as achievable regardless of gender. Dingle and Kiewa (2006) in a study of college students participating in an elective kayaking course, found the competitive kayaking culture provided a source of stress for women, many of whom felt uncomfortable performing in front of more skillful male peers. They also found that women sought a different teaching method than males instead seeking an instructor who was more aware of their fears and “not just a good paddler.†Self-determination theory suggests that confidence is integral to intrinsic motivation with it being the most effective stimulant for continuing participation (Dingle & Kiewa, 2006). Fear, on the other hand, whether linked to failure or embarrassment, frequently leads to a destructive cycle of decreasing confidence. In sum, Dingle and Kiewa (2006) highlighted the potentially destructive nature of an ego-oriented learning environment for women.