Become a Sister in Skydiving!
Ladies, do you remember what it was like when you started skydiving? Was it an exciting yet intimidating experience? Did you feel like the minority in a male-dominated sport, sometimes wishing for someone to talk to who could relate to what you were going through and help you through some of the issues that only new women skydivers face?
Well, you made it through to become an experienced skydiver, and now you have a chance to give back to the sport and help some of the student and novice women who are likely experiencing a lot of the same difficulties as you did.
USPA is excited to introduce its new Sisters in Skydiving (SIS) mentorship program.
We’re inviting experienced female skydivers to sign up to act as mentors to new women jumpers. The goal is to offer support and help increase female retention in the sport. About half of first-jump students are female, yet women make up only about 15 percent of USPA members. Why are so few women who make a first jump successfully pursuing the sport and becoming licensed skydivers? There’s no easy answer, but we hope that by giving new women jumpers experienced female role models to help guide and support them, we’ll be able to increase retention of female students, adding depth and diversity to our sport.
How It Works
Joining Sisters in Skydiving and becoming a Big Sister is simple. You don’t need to have thousands of jumps or world records under your belt to participate. All you need is a minimum of 100 jumps and the desire to help new female jumpers. If you’re interested in participating, simply click on here, and complete the SIS registration form.
Once you register as a Big Sister with USPA, you’ll get access to a special online resource center on the USPA website. The resource center contains information that will help you offer guidance to your Little Sister, including:
- advice from leading women in the sport on some of the biggest issues new female jumpers face
- Parachutist articles on a range of topics relevant to new women jumpers
- other resources with information on increasing female retention
- a database of Big Sisters that will allow you to communicate with other mentors and exchange ideas
Make sure to let your DZO or school manager know that you’ve signed up. The DZO or student coordinator can help pair you up with women going through the student program or those who have just earned their A licenses. And it’s important that they know who’s offering guidance to their students. Be proactive. Your DZO likely has his hands full, so make sure to take the lead in finding yourself a Little Sister.
You can limit yourself to just one Little Sister at a time, or you can take on several. It’s not a huge time commitment. It’s just a way to reach out and let new female jumpers know they have a place in this sport.
Your Job as a Big Sister
As a Big Sister, you’re not acting as a coach or instructor for female students. Rather, you’re a friend, role model and mentor. You’ll give your Little Sister someone to talk to about issues she may be facing as she progresses in skydiving. You’ll help keep her from potentially feeling alone, alienated or intimidated as a minority in the sport. Here are just a few ideas of things you can offer as a Big Sister:
- Invite your Little Sister to social outings with your skydiver friends.
- Introduce your Little Sister to organizers or others at the drop zone to jump with.
- Help with equipment selection and share your experiences with finding the right size gear.
- Be a sounding board for your Little Sister to air her concerns, fears or difficulties in the sport, and offer moral support and encouragement.
- Let your Little Sister know that you may have gone through some of the same struggles she’s experiencing, whether it’s difficulty figuring out landings, trying to balance family life or facing fear.
As a new program, Sisters in Skydiving has plenty of room for growth and new ideas. Once you begin acting as a Big Sister, USPA will encourage you to let us know about your experiences both good and bad, offer suggestions on ways to improve the program and share your success stories.
As such a small percentage of jumpers, female skydivers need to stick together and support each other. As an experienced female skydiver, you have an opportunity—some might even say a responsibility—to reach out to new women jumpers, welcome them into our community and help empower them to reach their skydiving goals.
Increasing the percentage of female skydivers is not something that will happen overnight, but if each of us does our part to support and encourage female students and novices, we can help our sport continue to grow.