Sharing "Advice for Girls"

Today we know Katie Guffey as the Senior Director of Food & Beverage at Keystone Resort, but her experience at Vail Resorts spans four departments and eleven roles since she got her start as a ski instructor at Park City Mountain in 2012. Recently, Katie took part in a panel discussion on gender and diversity during a screening of Advice for Girls, an all-women ski film, to share thoughts on the important role females play in the snowsports industry. The Women & Allies ERG and local street teams worked together to bring Advice for Girls to our resorts. Hear more from Katie about her experience at the screening and over her decade in the industry. 

Women & Allies ERG: What are your thoughts on the film, Advice for Girls? 
Katie: I loved the film. I thought it gracefully combined some awesome skiing with a clear, well-constructed message. I particularly admired how it incorporated other intersections of diversity including skiers with disabilities and trans-women. It didn’t surprise me, though, that a film made by and of women would include intersectionality. I think that feels very natural to us to do. It even included a diverse range of ways to interact with the sport such as backcountry and park, which many ski films don’t include. The only thing it lacked was much attention towards snowboarding, although this did get a little airtime with the para-snowboarder. 

Women & Allies ERG: You were on the panel for combined showing for Keystone and Breckenridge. How would you describe that experience? 
Katie: It was so fun! We had a wide range of representation on the panel from different resorts, experience, age, and races. I tried to include some storytelling in all of my answers – I find that people connect more with personal messages rather than generic or broad statements. The audience was very engaged based on my looking out into the crowd, all eagerly looking up at us, and seeing their reactions from nods to smiles to laughs to head shaking. We offered a good mix of seriousness, silliness, and positivity during our panel – it wasn’t all about the hard stuff. 

Women & Allies ERG: By Vail Resorts and Advice for Girls partnering together and our company’s active efforts toward DEI, what cultural shifts do you anticipate for women in the ski industry? 
Katie: I anticipate more events geared towards women specifically throughout the industry such as competitions, celebrations, and productions. The goal is for everyone to feel welcome and often that means carving out specific spaces for certain groups so that they can find their footing with people like them while also integrating into the industry at large. I think this partnership shows that we are willing to invest resources to make good on our commitment to DEI and that Vail Resorts should continue that trend. 

Women & Allies ERG: What would you change in the culture from your early years in the industry that could improve the experience for new hires, especially women? 
Katie: From a personal standpoint, we could continue to reimagine how resources are provided for women’s needs, particularly as it pertains to maternity leave and returning from that leave. 

Women & Allies ERG: Has your identity as a woman ever been challenged by others' perceptions or bias? If so, how did you lean in and disrupt that behavior? 
Katie: This can be tough. As I shared on the panel, I have been told before, to my face, that I “only got the promotion because” I’m a woman. The intent behind that person’s statement (actually multiple people’s statements) was that I was being given an unfair advantage because of my gender. That is, that the choice was made to pick me solely because it would increase the diversity of the team. Of course, I refute that. What gets lost in that simplistic back-and-forth, however, is that in some ways, my gender should not be ignored because it is part of my identity. It allows me a different perspective which can be beneficial for a team.