Women adventurers
July 30, 2014 8:20 AM   Subscribe

I am trying to put together a list of women explorers from history. An example, meant to be illustrative rather than limiting:

Harriet Chalmers Adams, who explored and photographed South America, Asia, and the South Pacific.

Who is your favorite female explorer? Why?
posted by maxsparber to Society & Culture (22 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Ann Bancroft. Her polar feats are amazing, and she calls a lot of attention to environmental issues.
posted by Melismata at 8:32 AM on July 30, 2014

I love Nellie Bly, a reporter (she exposed terrible conditions in asylums) and she's the first person to travel around the world in 72 days.
posted by xingcat at 8:33 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Isabella Bird. Martha Gellhorn was pretty cool, too. Dickey Chapelle
posted by KokuRyu at 8:40 AM on July 30, 2014 [3 favorites]

Grandma Gatewood was badass. I don't know if she's truly an explorer, but she was certainly a pioneer.
posted by bondcliff at 8:44 AM on July 30, 2014

I believe there is a chapter all about this in the excellent Daring Book For Girls by MeFi's Own mothershock.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:45 AM on July 30, 2014

The Dutch Alex[andr]ine Tinne was the first European woman to travel Central Africa. Well, in fact, so was her mother who travelled with her.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:46 AM on July 30, 2014

Sally Ride was the first American woman in space!
posted by insectosaurus at 8:50 AM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sally Ride was my hero when I was a kid!

Gertrude Bell
Amelia Edwards
posted by carrioncomfort at 8:53 AM on July 30, 2014

Arlene Blume led some of the first all-women expeditions to major mountains, including leading an all-woman ascent of Annapurna, which was also the first American ascent of the mountain. This climb is documented in the book Annapurna, A Woman's Place.
posted by bondcliff at 8:55 AM on July 30, 2014

The podcast Stuff Mom Never Told You is having a women adventurers/explorers summer.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:07 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

The amazing Isabelle Eberhardt: polyglot wanderer, Islamic convert, brilliant writer, war correspondent, activist and adventurer -- all before the age of 27, when she died in a flash flood in Aïn Séfra.
posted by deathmarch to epistemic closure at 9:13 AM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Amelia Earhart
posted by Michele in California at 9:21 AM on July 30, 2014

Mary Kingsley is an important explorer of West Africa.

I will mention two other females, though I know this does not really apply to what you are asking. Technically, two of the greatest exploration achievements in 20th Century were both achieved by females, though they get no credit because both of these females also happened to be dogs. Lika was a Soviet dog who was the first Earthling to go into outer space. Etah was a Norwegian dog who was the first Earthling to reach the South Pole. Both were females.
posted by Flood at 9:30 AM on July 30, 2014

Also, here is a Wikipedia list of female explorers.
posted by Flood at 9:33 AM on July 30, 2014

"In the 1930s and 1940s, [Bessie Springfield, known as the "Motorcycle Queen of Miami] took eight long-distance, solo rides across the United States. Speaking to a reporter, she dismissed the notion that 'nice girls didn’t go around riding motorcycles in those days.' Further, she was apparently fearless at riding through the Deep South when racial prejudice was a tangible threat. Was Bessie consciously championing the rights of women and African-Americans? Bessie would most likely have said she was simply living her life in her own way."
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:57 AM on July 30, 2014

Beryl Markham
posted by jacquilynne at 10:18 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Gertrude Bell was amazing. Desert Queen is an excellent biography.
posted by rtha at 10:20 AM on July 30, 2014

Gudrid was about the single best-travelled European born before 1000AD.
posted by tchemgrrl at 10:56 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space. (Her daughter was the first person ever to be born to two parents who had both been to space.)
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 12:08 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Wikipedia has a list of female astronauts.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 12:16 PM on July 30, 2014

Ella Maillart - European traveler through Central Asia
posted by scrambles at 12:42 PM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Alexandra David-Néel.
posted by judith at 11:01 PM on July 30, 2014

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