The Second Woman in Denmark to become Forest Supervisor

Denmark: Inge Gillesberg was born and raised in the city, but a mixture of curiosity and spite, brought her into the forest world.
We present Inge Gillesbergs story as part of #womensustain 2021.

Navn: Inge Gillesberg

Age: 62

Job: Forest Supervisor at the Nature Agency, Southern Jutland

Education: Master’s in Forestry

1.      Please present yourself and tell a little bit about your background and your relation to the forest.

My name is Inge Gillesberg, I am 61 years old. I am a Forest Supervisor at the Danish Nature Agency. I got my Master’s in Forestry in 1985. I was a forester in the State’s Forestry Research Center and the private forestry management company called Hedeselskabet before I got a job at the Nature Agency as a forester. In 1997, I was promoted to Forest Supervisor. I became the second woman to ever become Forest Supervisor in Denmark. I was born and raised in Frederiksberg and I have many times been asked how I decided to study forestry. I think, it was a mix of curiosity and spite. Curiosity because I liked to be in nature but didn’t know much about the science behind nature. Spite because to study forestry wasn’t an obvious choice for a girl from the city.

2.      How is it for you to be a woman in the forestry sector?

I can only recommend it to others. I have had exciting jobs with many challenges and big variations. I have always felt comfortable in the sector. I was always aware that I was different from the average and I have always been okay with that. There has been times when I had to stand my ground and point out that it was me who was the professional; but over the years, it’s become more seldom. I have also experienced that I had to make an extra effort – but here I have probably been my own worst enemy!

3.      How are women represented in the sector in your country? 

Well, after my colleague who worked in Thy retired two years ago, there are now only two female forest supervisors in the Nature Agency. Fortunately, we have gotten more female employees, but there is a long way to an equal distribution between men and women.        

4.      How would you describe the forest(ry) sector in the area where you are working?

The forestry sector is relatively small in Denmark. Over the years, there have been several paradigm shifts, especially relating to state forests. The shift has been from forests focused on wood production, to a gradually bigger and bigger opening of forests for recreational purposes, to the current major focus on biodiversity in forests and the designation of forest areas to become undisturbed forests.

5.      How do you see your role, as a woman in the sector? 

I don’t feel that I have a special role as a woman. I have a role to play in showing that it is a sector that appeals to both women and men. And I will be happy if I can be a kind of role model.

6.      Do you think you have different motives, goals, skills and practices than your male colleagues?

I do not think there is a distinction between genders, it’s more about different personalities. I am an outgoing person who likes to engage in dialogue with citizens and users of the Danish Nature Agency’s areas. I really appreciate the versatility of the day-to-day management of the state’s forests and areas.

7.      Have you faced any form of discrimination tied to your status or your work? 

I will not say that I have encountered discrimination; but, and especially in my earlier years, there were some who were surprised by a female forester. 

8.      How do you relate to climate change? Do you think women have different competencies to beat climate change and secure sustainable forests than men?

If we are to generalize based on gender, I believe that women are willing to make greater economic sacrifices to counteract the consequences of climate change. 

9.      Can you describe, in general terms, the status of women in the sector and how they are viewed?

In my experience there is respect for women in the forestry sector; but there is still work to be done to make women see themselves as part of the sector.

This article is a part of the #womensustain campaign. The campaign contains the accounts of women from Nepal, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Vietnam, from technical experts, university professors, policy makers and forest owners.