Women Rising In Caravan Industry

Caravan World — 8 September 2022
Women add a level of objectivity and support that makes you think, question, and evaluate initial ideas and perceptions on a whole range of topics.

I am not sure about you, but the women around me rule the roost, and my life is much the better for it. Whether it be a providing wise counsel when I am about to make a rash (and often) wrong decision or delivering emotional guidance and support through thick or thin, the women I know add a level of objectivity and support that makes me think, question, and evaluate my initial ideas and perceptions on a whole range of topics.

I am sure I am not the only one. Whether it be a wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunty, female colleague or other significant woman, their judgement is one to be valued and respected, with the added bonus that life should be happier with them being around. I am often reminded of two things that have always held me in relatively good stead: ‘happy wife, happy life’ and making sure there is plenty of input from the lady of the house when a new caravan is on the cards. 

Caravanning and camping is a highly emotional (and financial) activity, and one that women are and should be highly involved and engaged with. Whether it be deciding what camper or caravan to buy, through to what campsite you should set up a tent at, the matriarch of the family has a big role to play. Indeed, a survey conducted of 2500 RV consumers found that women were more discerning than men when it came to warranty and after-market support, operating costs, materials used, heating and cooling systems, road handling, camp site set-up and interior caravan space. In fact, the only functionality which men rated higher in RV selection than women was entertainment and electronic devices. 



I am reminded of the best-selling book by John Gray Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus which looks at differences in the way men and women think. Whether you subscribe to physiology as above, or alternative views around social conditioning, the fact remains that man and women when faced with a common set of problems, in many cases process and approach these differently. This is why Australia’s largest companies, in even the most historically male-dominated industry sectors, have welcomed women into the boardroom and into senior leadership roles. To demonstrate this, there are now no ASX-200 companies that do not have at least one female board member among their composition.

It has, therefore, been a source of frustration and surprise that the caravanning and camping industry continues to be so dominated by men in senior positions of leadership and customer-facing sales and service, both within industry businesses and representative bodies. But this is changing and quickly.

At the recently held Caravan Industry Association of Australia Annual General Meeting, three of the six announced board members were women, bringing the total to four out of nine board members, well above the 26.8 per cent average (2018–19) of female directors in the non-public sector as reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in the Gender Indicators report. This was on the back of nearly 50 per cent of all nominations received being women. Importantly, each successful board member did so on merit and not based around a forced quota.

There have been trailblazing women in the past, but they have always been heavily outnumbered around the board table. The current mix is very much encouraged and welcomed, with programs being planned on how to empower more women in our industry to raise their profile and nominate for key industry positions. We are already seeing increased prominence by women as they carve their own career paths within leading industry businesses, and the emergence of highly motivated and successful young women are reflected in four of the past five National Future Leader winners being female. Three current state association CEOs are women, and the current president of Caravanning Tasmania is also an incredibly busy young woman. Highly talented women are taking leadership roles involved in technical, engineering and trade positions, including within our own compliance team. At the recently held Queensland trade awards, the salesperson of the year was also female, holding off a strong field of her male colleagues. 

If as an industry we are to improve, and better supply products that meet consumer and community expectations and standards, this progression of prominent women holding leadership positions must continue to gain momentum. With so many opportunities ahead of us as a caravanning community, we welcome the influence and expected balanced debate that a diverse board will bring to industry direction and strategy discussions. 

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