Women's History Month: Trailblazing Female Explorers

Celebrate Women's History Month by discovering the stories of women who have broken barriers in exploration around the world.

Seven Women sitting and laughing.
Photo by Joel Muniz / Unsplash

This Women’s History Month, we shine a spotlight on the incredible women whose adventurous spirits have led them to explore the unknown and challenge the traditional narratives of exploration. From scaling towering peaks to advocating for environmental conservation, these trailblazers have paved the way for future generations of explorers. You, too, can change the world narrative as an explorer. Yes, really!

  1. Mae Jemison: An engineer, physician, and NASA astronaut, Mae Jemison became one of the first women to travel in space aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992. Jemison logged 190 hours, 30 minutes, and 23 seconds in Spacelab and orbited the Earth 127 times. She conducted several significant experiments in the lab—NASA's Fluid Therapy System, among others.
  2. Junko Tabei: As the first woman to summit Mount Everest in 1975, this Japanese mountaineer conquered the world's highest peak and completed the Seven Summits, inspiring women across Asia and the globe.
  3. Arunima Sinha: A mountaineer and former national volleyball player, Arunima Sinha became the world's first female amputee to climb Mount Everest in 2013. Her extraordinary determination showcases the power of resilience and courage.
  4. Sophia Danenberg: An environmental policy analyst, Danenberg summited Mount Everest (8,850m, Asia) in 2006 and scaled three other 'Seven Summits': Aconcagua (6,962m, South America), Denali (6,194m, North America), and Kilimanjaro (5,895m, Africa), breaking new ground in high-altitude mountaineering.
  5. Ashley Fiolek: An accomplished motocross racer and a member of the Cherokee Nation, Ashley Fiolek has not only dominated in a sport traditionally led by men but also serves as an inspiration as a deaf athlete, proving that barriers are meant to be overcome.
  6. Ingrid Silva: Dominating the world of ballet, Ingrid Silva, from Rio de Janeiro, has used her platform as a professional ballet dancer within the arts and beyond, exploring cultural landscapes, and currently performs with the Dance Theatre of Harlem in New York City.

These women have not only ventured into uncharted territories but have also opened doors for those who follow. Their legacies remind us that exploration knows no bounds of gender or origin.

Useful Links:

  1. Mae Jemison’s Space Endeavor: NASA Biography of Mae Jemison
  2. Junko Tabei’s Legacy: National Geographic on Junko Tabei
  3. Arunima Sinha’s Story: BBC News: Arunima Sinha's Everest Climb
  4. Sophia Danenberg’s Everest Climb: Outside Online: Sophia Danenberg's Historic Summit
  5. Ashley Fiolek’s Motocross Journey: ESPN Profile on Ashley Fiolek
  6. Ingrid Silva’s Dance Exploration: Pointe Magazine: Ingrid Silva

These are the lives and achievements of these remarkable women that I hope are both inspiring and educational on the faces of exploration and adventure. So, Shawanda, you, too, can travel. Get on that plane!