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Women's progress in forestry: Examples from the Philippines and the United States

1. Filipino women in forestry

Cerenilla A. Cruz

Cerenilla A. Cruz is a teacher and researcher in the College of Forestry, Department of Forest Resources Management. University of the Philippines at Los Baños.

· The possibility that now exists for women to participate in forestry activities is largely a result of the various forestry development programmes of the Philippine Government. Opportunities for women in the forestry profession occur in at least three categories: instruction, research and extension.

My first taste of the forestry profession dates back to February 1967, when I was employed as a research assistant in the Department of Forest Resources Management (FRM) of the College of Forestry at the University of the Philippines at Los Baños (UPLB). In 1971, I became the first female member of the teaching staff of FRM. I was assigned to teach courses in forestry economics and related fields. Today, the department has four female faculty members. Since these courses do not require fieldwork, we have not had any physical difficulties in teaching them. However, our physical stamina has been tested in separate summer sessions during which we oversee a course involving forest mensuration work.

As of 1984, 16 of the 70 members of the faculty of the college were women. Aside from those in FRM, women are also teaching in the departments of Forest Biological Sciences, Wood Science and Technology, Silviculture and Forest Biological Sciences, Wood Science and Technology, Silviculture and Forest Influences, and Social Forestry. There are other female staff in the college who are not members of the faculty but are involved in forestry extension work and in training programmes. Most of the faculty have advanced degrees in forestry, and this is partly due to the privilege given by the UPLB to its staff to pursue matters or doctoral programmes in the university on a part-time basis and at reduced fees. I finished my Ph.D. degree in forestry in this way.

As a teacher and researcher, I feel a great sense of satisfaction when I hear that my former students have passed the board examination for foresters or that a former graduate-student advisee is doing a good job in his or her own fire of work; or when my research results interest other researchers, students, and colleagues in the profession. Among the other sources of satisfaction I have had are participating and presenting papers in local and international symposia, seminars and work shops; being invited to act as resource person in two training courses whose participants came from the Southeast Asian region; and participating in a training course in forestry projects that was sponsored by the World Bank.

CAN SHE BECOME A FORESTER? in the past she only carried fuelwood

Until the late 1960s, only a few Filipino women chose forestry as a career. Now, however, the increasing interest of women in the forestry profession can be observed from enrolment trends. In the college, 72 of the 134 new students who enrolled in 1982-83 were females; of these, 8 were pursuing a forestry curriculum, while 4 were studying forest products engineering. The rest were enrolled in the forest ranger curriculum. As of 1980, the college had graduated 148 women in its forest ranger curriculum and 89 in its Bachelor's degree programme. The total number of Filipino women in forestry is much higher, since there are more than 25 other schools directly involved in forestry training.

Besides being employed in the forestry profession, Filipino women are involved in forestry-related activities. The implementation of forest development projects in particular has greatly increased the involvement of rural women in forestry work. In the past, nursery activities were performed by men, but women now take part in such activities as filling plastic bags with soil for the sowing of seeds, potting seedlings, watering, and fertilizing nursery plants. It is interesting to note that these women are paid the same wages as the male workers. In tree farming, where farm business is considered a family affair, women work hand in hand with their male counterparts. Rural women are also involved in the gathering and drying of Leucaena leucocephala leaves for leaf-meal production. In the wood industries, some jobs that used to be done only by men are now also done by women. Some wood-processing firms are employing women to work in their research departments and to do finishing jobs in plywood manufacturing.

The participation of Filipino women in forestry activities is by now a recognized fact. Their involvement is sure to increase even more as new development programmes, whether private or public, are undertaken in the country.

2. Women in the USDA Forest Service

Mary H. Albertson

Mary H. Albertson is Federal Women's Programme Manager, USDA Forest Service, Portland, Oregon. USA. This article was previously published in the journal Women in Forestry Vol. 6. No. 1.

· Although the Federal Women's Program (FWP) in the United States is 16 years old, I am still often asked, "What is it? What can it do for me?" The Federal Women's Program is part of a federal-government-wide effort to increase employment and advancement opportunities for women. It was established as a result of an executive order issued by the President of the United States, who mandated the programme because of a recognition that women face special problems in employment and career advancement as a result of role stereotypes and myths about women. Unlike ethnic minority groups, women have traditionally been employed by the Forest Service, although they have typically occupied the lower pay levels and dead-end jobs.

The purpose of the FWP is straightforward. It aims to increase employment and advancement opportunities for women so that they will be fairly represented at all organizational and pay levels and in all job categories in the federal workforce. For the USDA Forest Service, this means that some day there should be significant numbers of women who are District Rangers, Forest Supervisors, Overhead Fire Team Bosses, Directors and Regional Foresters.

Although the FWP started in 1967, it did not take hold in most federal agencies, including the Forest Service, until the early 1970s. The first few years of the decade were concentrated in increasing awareness among male managers and male and female employees, dispelling myths about working women, encouraging women to reach their full potential and encouraging the agency to provide career counselling, assertiveness training and the like to women. All along, two priorities for the FWP have been placing women in nontraditional jobs, and assessing organizational barriers and recommending methods and alternatives for dealing with institutionalized procedures and policies that hamper the advancement of women.

Seven years in the USDA Forest Service

June 1976

June 1983

Women as percentage of total workforce



Women as percentage of professional work force



Women as percentage of administrative/technical workforce



Women as percentage of total workforce in pay grades GS-11 end above



Women District Rangers



Women Staff Directors



Women Deputy Forest Supervisors



ADAPTING TO DIFFICULT CONDITIONS forest work is not just for men

The FWP operates as a multi-pronged effort to try to reach the long-term goals described here.
Some of the key facets are:

· Emphasizing outreach to and recruitment, at the entry level, of women in professional occupations (e.g., foresters and engineers).

· Encouraging a strong upward-mobility programme geared toward employees at low pay levels and in dead-end jobs to allow them to move into better-paid, more-challenging occupations.

· Working with managers to stress the placement of women in line positions and other management jobs.

· Analysing factors that hinder the movement of women into top-level jobs and recommending action to mitigate these barriers.

· Encouraging managers to include women in visibility-producing assignments such as special ad hoc committees, study teams, formalized training opportunities, and fire-overhead teams.

The FWP manager does not take each woman by the hand. Rather, she is a manager, a change agent, a catalyst. She recommends systems and processes for integrating the employment, training, advancement and involvement of women into every facet of the organization so that the managers - who are, after all, the ones who can hire, train and promote - do in fact hire, train and promote women. For example, an FWP manager might recommend that managers' performance standards include an element on the employment and advancement of women. If this is approved, it becomes part of an organizational process and an accepted way of doing business.

A key function of the programme is identifying problems and assessing barriers - such as lack of mentors, problems of dual-career families, and absence of developmental and visibility-producing assignments - and recommending alternative solutions to management. The programme has had a significant degree of success in the Forest Service (see table).

For the most part, entry-level barriers have been broken. As can be readily seen in the table, the current and future challenge is the movement of women into line and other management jobs. There is some resistance, but a number of managers throughout the Forest Service are demonstrating positive results in this area.

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