Jayne Zanglein’s “The Girl Explorers” shines a light on the accomplishments of intrepid female explorers, many of whom never received the credit they deserved. In fact, many are almost entirely lost to history. And before you go thinking “Ah ya, I know all about that,” just think about this one, little, nagging statistic. Women are fifty percent of the human population. They represent .05% of recorded history. Houston, we have a problem.
The book tracks the life and career of women who turned the tide on societal norms, in the process taking both immense risk and immense abuse. Remember folks, there are STILL men only explorer clubs. The range of male based stupidity in this book is frankly astounding, and you might think this book is entirely down on the male of the species. And although we men do go to extraordinary lengths to be the most incredible idiots we can be, the book is more about the positive impact and legendary exploits of the women than the evil of men.
Some of these women were familiar to me. Others, entirely unknown. But I was left in wonder of their adventures, their daring and their ability to take shots from all angles and keep going. I am fortunate to work for a company founded by a woman. I’ve worked for women for the past twelve years, and my new boss is also a woman. Executives in the tech world are running at about 13% female. These women are also pioneers but clearly we have a lot more work to do.
The book describes in depth The Society of Woman Geographers, formed after Roy Chapman Andrews decided to declare, “Women are not adapted for exploration.” Nice going Roy. This is a book tied to the notes in the back. Each of the women deserves their own deep dive, so be prepared to use both the footnotes and the notes that anchor the end of the book. And if you are reading this on an e-reader, well, can’t help you.