Get to Know the First Women of The Explorers Club

Today there are more than 800 female members of The Explorers Club. Forty years ago, in the spring of 1981, there were none. But efforts were underway to change that. For several years, the Club's president, Charles Brush, had been pushing for change. There was considerable opposition; but others in the all-male organization, including astronomer Carl Sagan, were supportive. As the debate raged, Sagan wrote an eloquent letter to the board, concluding with a strong warning that "if membership in The Explorers Club is restricted to men, the loss will be ours."

When Brush presented his proposition to the membership for a vote in early 1981, the result of the secret ballot was close, 753 to 613 in favor of amending the bylaws to allow women into the club as members. The big announcement was made at the Annual Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel; and a few months later, in September, five women were elected as members. More were elected later in the fall; and by the end of the year, there were 16 women members of The Explorers Club. All had pushed their bold dreams into solid field research.

Check out these images from some of the extraordinary expeditions and accomplishments of four iconic explorers: Dr. Sylvia Earle, Kathy Sullivan, Carol Beckwith, and Anna Roosevelt.

March 03, 2021

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