I just got my September/October issue of WildBird Magazine. While I was thumbing through it, the article by Kevin T. Karlson “Leaders of the Flock” caught my eye. It’s to “salute current and future leaders who will affect birding during the next 20 years.”
I know almost everyone mentioned in the article and agreed with the selections: Jeff Bouton—love ‘im, Mike Freiberg—love ‘im, Barry Lyon—love ‘im, etc. Then I noticed that there was only one female on the list, Jessie Barry ( a strong woman of birding well on her way in her birding career). Go, Jessie! Suddenly I found myself irritated. Why out of the 18 people selected was only one of them female? I then got irritated with myself for taking the time to count it out. Why does it matter so much to me how many males vs females are on the list? I'm certainly not anti-man, I love to surround myself with them as much as possible.
I met Karlson once and he is a nice guy and I don’t think this is a reflection of him purposely excluding women. He does clarify up front that he “couldn’t contact several deserving people and a few declined to be included”. Maybe female birders shy away from the high profile areas and prefer to remain unnoticed? Perhaps he’s just not exposed to many of the great women of birding?
I’m sure people from different points of view would point out other omissions to the list, for example: where are the African Americans? Asians? Latinos? That’s a good question for birding in general--why so white bread? And I'm certainly not saying that the people mentioned are not worthy to be on the list--they certainly are. I get even more frustrated with myself when I think of who I would add to the list, who would have to be taken off? Not easy because they are all great movers and shakers in the birding world.
The bottom line is that this article is one person's opinion and chances are no matter who came up with a list, questions would be asked about the reason for the selections. The article ends with a note that space prevented more people form being on the list and readers are welcome to write a short note (300 words—Amy is a stickler for brevity) and commend special leaders who have affected the national or regional birding communities. You can email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org or snail mail to:
PO Box 6050
Mission Viejo, CA 92690