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The women explorers who changed the travel world

April 7, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 16.7%. 1 min read.

394033 03: (FILE PHOTO) Amelia Earhart stands June 14, 1928 in front of her bi-plane called "Friendship" in Newfoundland. Carlene Mendieta, who is trying to recreate Earhart's 1928 record as the first woman to fly across the US and back again, left Rye, NY on September 5, 2001. Earhart (1898 - 1937) disappeared without trace over the Pacific Ocean in her attempt to fly around the world in 1937. (Photo by Getty Images)

They'd traveled hundreds and thousands of miles between them, but explorer Blair Niles and one-time spy Marguerite Harrison were disappointed to learn that they were deemed unsuitable to join the Explorers Club.

Despite their considerable travel achievements, the pair were banned from becoming members as the club, founded in 1904, did not admit women.

In 1925, the foursome founded the Society of Women Geographers so that women explorers like themselves could get together and share their experiences.

Jayne Zanglein, a professor at Western Carolina University, examines the history of the Society of Women Geographers in her new book "The Girl Explorers," which puts the spotlight on some of its most famous members and the barriers they broke down.

"This group of women have paved the way for women today," Zanglein tells CNN Travel.

While she was intrigued by all the society members, Zanglein felt a particularly strong connection to Niles, who was born on a plantation in Staunton, Virginia and "ended up being an advocate for black and gay people. "

"That sense of wonder that you get when you're traveling and wanting to learn about other people certainly made them [the early society members] more open minded, but not all of them were. "

"What impressed me most about the early members of the society was that they had compassion for people of all races and nationalities," she says.

The Explorers Club admitted its first female members in 1981, nearly 60 years after the Society of Women Geographers was created.

While Zanglein acknowledges that the original club has "come full circle" over the years, and now celebrates the achievements of women from all walks of life, the Society of Women Geographers is still going strong.

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