Justice for All: Women in Outdoor Education

  • Sarah A. Dubreuil Karpa
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Gender and Education book series (GED)


Maintenance of normative gender roles combined with societal expectations leads to the subjugation of women in the outdoors. These expectations are reinforced by those in the media, who perpetuate sexist perceptions with their portrayal of women. This gender bias and sustainment of normative gender roles leads to women questioning their own abilities, resulting in lower participation rates of women in the outdoors. Prejudicial gender treatment is not confined to outdoor programming as it has been observed in postsecondary outdoor education programmes. Through the exploration of personal experience and literature review, social justice is highlighted as being essential in outdoor education training programmes in order to initiate change within the outdoor industry.


Social justice Gender Outdoor education Gender bias 


  1. Autry, C. E. (2001). Adventure therapy with girls at-risk: Responses to outdoor experiential activities. Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 35(4), 289–306.Google Scholar
  2. Boniface, M. (2006). The meaning of adventurous activities for ‘women in the outdoors’. Journal of Adventure Education & Outdoor Learning, 6(1), 9–24. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Canadian Association of Social Workers. (2005). Code of ethics. Retrieved from
  4. Cosgriff, M., Little, D. E., & Wilson, E. (2009). The nature of nature: How New Zealand women in middle to later life experience nature-based leisure. Leisure Sciences, 32(1), 15–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gilliam, N. (1993). What happens when the ropes courses move from the woods to psychiatric treatment facilities. In M. A. Gass (Ed.), Adventure therapy: Therapeutic applications of adventure programming (pp. 209–216). Boulder, CO: Association for Experiential Education.Google Scholar
  6. Gray, T. (2016). The ‘F’ word: Feminism in outdoor education. Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education, 19(2), 25–41.Google Scholar
  7. Hornibrook, T., Brinkert, E., Parry, D., Seimens, R., Mitten, D., & Priest, S. (1997). The benefits and motivations of all women outdoor programs. Journal of Experiential Education, 20, 152–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Humberstone, B. (2000). The ‘outdoor industry’ as social and educational phenomena: Gender and outdoor adventure/education. Journal of Adventure Education & Outdoor Learning, 1(1), 21–35. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Jordan, D. (1991). In the eye of the beholder: Perceptions of female and male outdoor leaders. Leisure Studies, 10(3), 235–245. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lee, J., Scott, D., & Floyd, M. F. (2001). Structural inequalities in outdoor recreation participation: A multiple hierarchy stratification perspective. Journal of Leisure Research, 33(4), 427–449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Loeffler, T. A. (1997). Assisting women in developing a sense of competence in outdoor programs. The Journal of Experiential Education, 20(3), 119–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Martin, S. V. (2013). The representation of women in adventure education literature. Prescott, AZ: Prescott College.Google Scholar
  13. Mcdermott, L. (2004, April). Exploring intersections of physicality and female-only canoeing experiences. Leisure Studies, 23, 283–301. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. McNiel, J. N., Harris, D. A., & Fondren, K. M. (2012). Women and the wild: Gender socialization in wilderness recreation advertising. Gender Issues, 29, 39–55. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Mitten, D. (1994). Ethical considerations in adventure therapy: A feminist critique. In E. Cole, E. Erdman, & E. D. Rothblum (Eds.), Wilderness therapy for women: The power of adventure (pp. 55–84). Binghamton, NY: Hawthorn Press.Google Scholar
  16. Morse, A. J. (1997). Gender conflict in adventure education: Three feminist perspectives. Journal of Experiential Education, 20, 124–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Picower, B. (2012). Teacher activism: Enacting a vision for social justice. Equity & Excellence in Education, 45(4), 561–574. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Smith, A. (2016). Feminist outdoor leadership: Challenging hegemonic masculinity through outdoor education. Portland, OR: Portland State University.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Thomas, G. (2009). Outdoor leadership education: Do recent textbooks focus on what is important to effective practice? In Fourth International Outdoor Education Research Conference, Beechworth, VIC, Australia.Google Scholar
  20. Warren, K. (2002). Preparing the next generation: Social justice in outdoor leadership education and training. The Journal of Experiential Education, 25(1), 231–238. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Warren, K. (2005). A path worth taking: The development of social justice in outdoor experiential education. Equity and Excellence in Education, 38, 89–99. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Warren, K., & Loeffler, T. A. (2000). Setting a place at the table: Social justice research in outdoor experiential education. Journal of Experiential Education, 23(2), 85–90. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Warren, K., & Loeffler, T. A. (2006). Factors that influence women’s technical skill development in outdoor adventure. Journal of Adventure Education & Outdoor Learning, 6(2), 107–119. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Warren, K., Roberts, N. S., Breunig, M., & Alvarez, M. A. G. (2014). Social justice in outdoor experiential education: A state of knowledge review. Journal of Experiential Education, 37(1), 89–103. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Witt, A.-K., & Cuesta, M. (2014). How gender conscious pedagogy in higher education can stimulate actions of social justice in society. Social Inclusion, 2(1), 12. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wittmer, C. R. (2001). Leadership and gender-role congruency: A guide for wilderness and outdoor practitioners. The Journal of Experiential Education, 24(3), 173–178. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah A. Dubreuil Karpa
    • 1
  1. 1.CalgaryCanada

Personalised recommendations