Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Dr. Mara Goldman

Second Advisor

Dr. William Travis

Third Advisor

Diane DeBella


This paper explores the positive effects of female-only outdoor education on the empowerment and self-esteem of women and girls. The author researches the different methods outdoor education programs and organizations use to facilitate an environment in which this empowerment can occur through an extensive literature review and personal interviews of participants, instructors, and directors. These methods include, but are not limited to, female-only settings, the wilderness solo, overcoming fears, and the acquirement of technical outdoor knowledge. The author also argues the empowerment of women and girls depends on the geographical context of the wilderness; these programs would not be as effective if they had an urban foundation. Women and girls acquire useful tools, such as survival knowledge, conflict resolution, defining self-desire, and so on as a result of their experiences in the wild. These tools can transcend into their everyday lives, creating a positive long-term impact in which they can overcome life’s greatest obstacles as women in a patriarchal society.