Sign O’ the Times

Treewoman – a Pleasantly Surprised Professional

So my consultancy treeplanning, or rather Treewoman herself (because the two are interchangeable), got a bit of a boost this week – acceptance as a Professional Member of the Arboricultural Association.

No formal arboricultural qualifications, never been trained, but my submission was based on my portfolio aka track-record and, in the view of the Arb Association’s assessor, that was impressive.

I’m very pleasantly surprised. I have to confess to a slightly jaundiced view of the Arb Association and other organisations like it, seeming to perform as they do, the self-appointed evaluators of quality in a profession when they may or may not be (who can tell?) the best people to be making such evaluations. I’ve always had a niggling suspicion that they’re all run by PaleMaleStales on behalf of other PaleMaleStales and, in the case of the Arb Association these are PMSs with Boys Toys – MEWPS, chainsaws, lorries, climbing equipment, tomographs (basically, you take an x-ray of a tree stem with it but whether or not that’s a useful thing to do is often a moot point).

My submission then was frank about my own route into trees-and-development consultancy. About 11 years ago my sons and I struck out on our own to escape some pretty grisly domestic circumstances. So mine is not a story about following my ‘passion for trees’ or pursuing the dream of running my own business, it’s primarily a story of needs must, and of overcoming many deterrents, complications and challenges in order to become a successful provider.

I’d like to find a way to use my story to inspire other women. In my view, the people supposed to be speaking up on our (women’s) behalf often do too much complaining, blaming and sensationalizing whilst there are too few of us simply standing up for who we are. Our work history and working profile can be unconventional but I don’t believe that makes it less valuable. Quite the opposite in fact. Our motivation may be relentlessly orientated in sync with our family commitments but maybe that just shows we have out heads on right. We often have to encounter male-dominated working environments which seem strange in so many ways (worth another blog sometime!) and within which we sometimes feel like a Fruit Loop in a world full of Cheerios, but hey, maybe it’s time to take heart. Let’s take ourselves seriously, embrace full-on self-education, stop putting our own experiences second to what ‘people’ say or think and strenuously resist intimidation by the working world as currently constituted. In other words, let’s be ready. Because I think, maybe, a really, really big tide is finally on the turn.