Women's history and the national parks

Women have made significant contributions the national parks throughout history.  From Joshua Tree to the Everglades, certain national parks wouldn't exist without women. 

Scroll to read women's contributions to national parks, current stories in the National Parks, and find organizations that are advancing diversity and inclusion outdoors.


Women's stories in the park

There are some amazing stories about women contributing to our national parks. In fact, several National Parks wouldn't exist without particular women stepping up and taking action.

But there is also so much work to do. With around 20,000 park rangers in the NPS workforce, less than 40% are female.

In 2000, an employee survey found that over half of female rangers and three-quarters of female park police had experienced sexual ­harassment on the job.

We are dedicated to improving the female experience in the national parks.


Remarkable Legacies of American Women in the national park service

From the lives of young, immigrant women who worked the textile mills at Lowell National Historic Park to those of the female shipyard workers who were essential to the home front during World War II at Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historic Park, women’s history can be found at every park.

If you want to understand our nation’s history, explore the remarkable legacies of American women.


Trailblazing Women and the Parks that Honor Them

It's hard to imagine what America would be like today without the contributions of tough, uncompromising women like Maggie L. Walker and Clara Barton.

For everyone traveling to national parks in search of fascinating tales about pivotal historical figures, there are quite a few places where you can learn about the women who helped shape American history beyond the well-known Women's Rights National Historical Park. Some of these stories might even be new to you!


National parks across the country preserve and share stories of trailblazing women who dared to imagine a different future

Tucked away behind the U.S. Capitol and across the street from the U.S. Supreme Court sits a historic building that served as the headquarters of the National Woman’s Party — home of the movement to recognize women’s right to vote. Named after suffragists Alva Belmont and Alice Paul, Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument houses an unparalleled collection of women’s suffrage artifacts honoring the efforts that led to the ratification of the 19th Amendment.


The 8 National Parks Devoted to Women’s History

Women comprise more than half of the population and make history virtually everywhere. Yet, only eight U.S. national park sites specifically commemorate some aspect of women’s history.


a history of women as park rangers

Throughout the first century of the United States National Park Service (NPS), the organization's workforce has grown more inclusive and gender-balanced. When the organization was formed in 1916, few female rangers worked within its ranks. As the organization grew, more women were hired into white-collar and clerical positions.

As social activism and second-wave feminism movements gained ground in the 1960s and 70s, women were hired into more diverse occupations and leadership roles within the NPS. Today, the National Park Service still faces a gender disparity with 37% of the workforce being female and has been criticized for its response to several sexual harassment cases.


How the National Park Service is failing women

In 2000, an employee survey found that over half of female rangers and three-quarters of female park police had experienced sexual ­harassment on the job.


These 10 National Parks Wouldn’t Exist Without Women

Women were the driving force behind the creation of many of our most popular national parks, yet few today are household names. Time to give credit where credit is due.

From Joshua Tree to Great Sand Dunes, these national park sites simply wouldn’t exist as we know them today without the tireless efforts of dedicated women.

Learn about the unsung heroes who made it happen.


amazing women in the parks

Today we celebrate the women who, despite unequal opportunities and mistreatment in the national park system, persisted to make significant contributions to the preservation of our nation’s treasured natural, cultural, and historical areas. May we learn from them, seek inspiration from them, and continue to share their stories and fight for equality even when it isn’t International Women’s Day.

It should come as no shock that women have not always been a welcomed presence in the historically male-dominated National Park Service. The first female park rangers (called “rangerettes”) were only temporary, filling in for men serving in World War I. For decades, there was much debate over what fe


Our Initiative

Our initiative is to diversify our national parks by using a three layered approach:

Awareness - get people to stop and realize there is a problem here
Education - give them exposure to first hand experiences 
Action - take action by donating, volunteering, or spreading awareness

We're focused on connecting to more diverse audiences and creating content with this audience in mind. Join Our Facebook Group below to join the discussion, share information, and connect with like-minded individuals. 


Organizations advancing Women's inclusion outdoors

As an outdoor enthusiast, you may be wondering what you can to do support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the outdoors. The recent prominence of the Black Lives Matter Movement has brought issues of inequality and racism in the outdoors to the forefront and has made us question what we can do to be better allies and help drive change.

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