Women in Arboriculture

It’s hard to consider arboriculture as anything but a male-dominated industry in the US when only 12% of arborists are female. The tree care industry has historically favored the male demographic, but interested females seem to just be getting started. Although the climb of female employment rates has been slow and steady, it is trending up. 


Women have been in arboriculture for a little over 90 years now, thanks to pioneer Margaret Stoughton Abell. Abell was the first female presence in the male-dominated arboriculture industry and is often credited with paving the way for future females to enter similar careers in forestry and tree care. Abell graduated from Iowa State College in 1930 with a bachelor’s degree in Forestry. Soon after, she joined the Appalachian Forest Experiment Station in Asheville, North Carolina, and worked on nearly every project conducted at the Station early on, including experiments on what is now the Bent Creek Experimental Forest.


SavATree is proud to continue with the trailblazing legacy of Margaret Stoughton Abell by employing over 260 women. You’ll find them safely soaring amongst the trees performing the pruning, and on the ground diagnosing and treating for optimal health. They make strategic decisions at the leadership level, and ensure all the technology necessary for your job is working properly from start to finish.


For those women who prefer the great outdoors, joining the tree care profession is a worthwhile path. Arboriculture is a rewarding career and trees don’t discriminate over gender. Female employees deserve to be recognized and celebrated. At SavATree, we’re doing just that.


Words from SAT Women

“When I was at University of Maryland in the early 2000’s, I anticipated that my landscape architecture program would be male dominated, as well as the profession. Even then it was approaching 50/50. Arboriculture became my true calling, and 20 years later, it still proves to be highly male dominated. As with most professions, I believe that there is a lack of understanding about our industry and the variety of roles within the profession that have evolved over time. Even though I am not the person executing the prescriptions that I develop, I have found a home at SavATree. At the same time, we do have female colleagues doing the hard labor of climbing, groundwork, and operating heavy machinery. “We can do hard things! Just follow your heart!” – Sara Jensen, ISA Certified Arborist, Rockville Branch 


“Being raised in a different culture than most allowed me the freedom to be unaware of gender stereotypes. I naturally found solace in surrounding myself with nature, which just happens to be a more male oriented environment. It still bothers me to discuss the disclaimer, “as a woman in a male dominated field”, but being a woman in a male-dominated field IS something to be proud of. At SavATree, we all tend to share the same perspective in our workplace community and we function as a team without worrying about gender. As a female arborist it has become a very strong desire of mine to change the narrative and help equip women to take their rightful place in a male-dominated society! I love being an arborist and knowing that I am doing my best to improve the Urban Forest one client at a time – Heidi Densmore, ISA Certified Arborist, Troy Branch


“I never really considered my position within the industry being odd, until I was here. I saw myself as confident and competent. It hadn’t occurred to me that people would look at me and say things like “whoa, it is so nice to see a girl doing this,” until they did. I quickly learned that I was one of a few females working in a male dominated world and I loved it. I knew I was capable of doing anything I put my mind to and here I was showing everyone that women are just as strong and efficient as a man. It was exhilarating. It became an added thing to love about my job. I was working outside with nature, trees and constantly meeting new people. As a female I am naturally predisposed to paying closer attention. My attention to detail allowed me to excel in a male dominated environment. Men tend to be more physically equipped for the industry, which is why I think it’s been this way for so long. However, women are sneaking up on them. We are taking the industry by storm. Every year I notice more women entering the field. I am proud to be one of the strong. While I may have been oblivious to my own uniqueness at the entry, I am now very much aware of it. Ultimately it doesn’t affect how I do my job. I am driven to be professional regardless of gender. I am prepared and educated regardless of gender. I am willing to work the hours and physical demand that are often exhausting, regardless of gender.” – Rachel Whitmer, PHC Field Manager, Troy Branch


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