© 2018

The Palgrave International Handbook of Women and Outdoor Learning

  • Tonia Gray
  • Denise Mitten

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Gender and Education book series (GED)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xli
  2. Setting the Scene

  3. Contested Spaces: Gender Disparity in Outdoor Learning Environments

About this book


This Handbook serves as a starting point for critical analysis and discourse about the status of women in outdoor learning environments (OLEs). Women choose to participate actively in outdoors careers, many believing the profession is a level playing field and that it offers alternatives to traditional sporting activities. They enter outdoor learning primarily on the strength of their enthusiasm for leading and teaching in natural environments and assume the field is inclusive, rewarding excellence regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status, disability, or ethnicity. However, both research and collective experiences in OLEs suggest that many women feel invisible, relegated, marginalized, and undervalued. 
In response to this marginalization, this Handbook celebrates the richness of knowledge and practices of women practitioners in OLEs. Women scholars and practitioners from numerous fields, such as experiential outdoor education, adventure education, adventure therapy, and gender studies, explore the implications of their research and practice using poignant examples within their own disciplines. These insights emerge from similar life experiences as women and outdoor leaders in the 1970s to the present. Social inequalities still abound in OLEs, and the Handbook ensures that the contributions of women are highlighted as well as the work that needs to be done to make these spaces inclusive.

Global in perspective and capacious in content, this one-stop volume is an indispensable reference resource for a diverse range of academics, including students and researchers in the fields of education, psychology, sociology, gender studies, geography, and environment studies, as well as the many outdoors fields.


outdoor education adventure education experiential outdoor education adventure therapy sustainable education motherhood

Editors and affiliations

  • Tonia Gray
    • 1
  • Denise Mitten
    • 2
  1. 1.Western Sydney UniversityPenrithAustralia
  2. 2.Prescott CollegePrescott, AZUSA

About the editors

Tonia Gray is Senior Researcher at Western Sydney University's Centre for Educational Research, Australia. She has been involved in outdoor education for over 30 years as a researcher, practitioner and curriculum developer, and in 2014 received the prestigious Australian Award for Excellence in University Teaching.

Denise Mitten is Graduate Chair of Adventure Education at Prescott College, USA, and is internationally recognized for her scholarship in outdoor and environmental pedagogy, and ethics and leadership.

Bibliographic information


“This book offers insights to all those who work, live, play in and who love the outdoors. It is of particular value to students on their respective paths to professional roles in the outdoors, teachers (scholars, researchers and lecturers in outdoor fields) and the leaders/elders that govern, guide and shape the sector.” (Mandi Baker, Annals of Leisure Research, October 24, 2019)

“It is a book that offers strategies and ideas for practitioners, academics, teacher educators, educators based in schools and early years settings, and researchers and research higher degree students – whether their work is in outdoor education or not. … this wonderful hopeful book is rich with ideas and directions for an inclusive nourishing future for us all.” (Alison L. Black, Journal of Education for Teaching JET, June 24, 2019)

“This text will be a valuable resource that will no doubt be eye-opening for many outdoor and environmental education practitioners and researchers, especially those who have given little thought to women’s experiences in the outdoors or those who may not (yet) see the point of attending to gender in our field. It certainly has the potential to serve as a launch point for a great deal of future research and discussion.” (Jay Kennedy, Environmental Education Research, December, 23, 2018)

“It is undeniable that the International Handbook of Women and Outdoor Learning is a game changer. I can imagine reading peer-reviewed papers in the field of outdoor learning published from this moment forward and asking myself to what degree the literature within this Handbook was included.” (Simon Beames, Gender, Work and Organization, December, 27 , 2018)

“This much needed work – based on women’s voices – took my own perceptions of women and outdoor learning to the next level … . This book looks at the ordinary and every day through which have emerged extraordinary stories of resilience, happiness and heartache, sometimes all at once. … I invite all people working in outdoor learning environments to seek out this book, open to the first page, and embrace the adventure that follows.” (Heidi A. Smith, Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education, July, 2018)