Last Updated on March 8, 2023 by AIFS Abroad
Did you know March is Women’s History Month? While women and their achievements should be celebrated all year round, this month is the perfect time to shout about them from the rooftops! Here at AIFS Abroad, we are passionate about helping our students become fearless global citizens and empowering them to change the world, so it seems only fitting that we put a spotlight on some incredible female travelers who have done the same.
Check out these 8 incredible female explorers famous for their impact on history:
1. Jeanne Baret
In the mid-1760s, Baret set out to join an international voyage being led by botanist and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville, but the French Royal ordinance would not allow women to come aboard French Navy ships. In an act of bravery and defiance, Baret disguised herself as a young man and offered herself as an assistant for the journey. Eventually, her identity was revealed on the ship, but she was permitted to stay on the ship and subsequently became the first female to circumnavigate the globe!
2. Amelia Earhart
Up next in our list of famous female explorers is Amelia Earhart — she was truly a pioneer! She broke boundaries in aviation travel, becoming the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She set many records and championed the advancement of women in her field. Sadly, she may be best known for her disappearance while attempting to circumnavigate the globe by plane. Her plane wreckage has never been found, and the circumstances around her disappearance remain a major mystery to this day.
3. Bessie Coleman
Bessie Coleman was the first female African American pilot and the first Black person to hold an international pilot’s license. As a Black woman, no flight school in the United States would accept Coleman. Instead, she taught herself French and eventually was accepted into a flight school in France. Bessie Coleman was known for her incredible high-flying stunts – and for not performing at segregated places. Tragically, her life was cut short in a plane crash at the age of 34, but Coleman’s legacy continues to inspire generations in the aviation community and beyond.
4. Nellie Bly
Nellie Bly was a pioneer in the field of investigative journalism who gained fame for traveling around the world in 72 days in 1889. Inspired by Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in Eighty Days, she traveled by train, steamship, rickshaw, horse and donkey, and more. Her trip set a world record!
5. Alexandra David-Neel
Alexandra David-Neel was a French explorer who traveled extensively in Asia. She is most well-known for her 1920s journey of sneaking into Lhasa, Tibet, which was forbidden to foreigners at the time. She was the first European woman to do so.
6. Mae Jemison
Mae Jemison has achieved so many things throughout her life and career — not only is she an engineer and physician, but she’s also an astronaut! Jemison became the first African American woman in space in 1992, serving as a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Endeavor. Talk about reaching for the stars!
7. Isabella Bird
Isabella Bird was a British traveler and writer who explored many parts of the world in the late 1800s and early 1900s, including China, Japan, and the American West. Her work helped readers back home understand the cultures and traditions of the people and places she was exploring. Bird was the first woman to be awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, as well as the first female member of the Royal Geographical Society.
8. Fanny Bullock Workman
Fanny Bullock Workman was an American mountaineer and explorer. She set a multitude of altitude records for women in the early 1900s and was awarded medals of honor from 10 European geographical societies. She wrote several travel books, focusing the majority of them on the plight of women in the areas she was exploring.
Feeling inspired by these famous female explorers and travelers?
Start a journey of your own and become a global change-maker! Explore various destinations around the world by living and learning abroad as a student or intern. Learn more about doing a study abroad program or international internship program today!