Women in Conservation

Mar 01, 2018
Happy Women’s History Month!  In honor of all the great women out there, past and present, we’re profiling women with a commitment to conservation and the environment.


Although women are historically underrepresented in the fields of science and conservation, some of the greatest leaders in these fields have been women. From inspiring the environmental movement to creating climate policy, women have made huge strides for the environment. Here is look at a few who have made and are making history with their work for conservation and the environment nationally and internationally. 

Women who have made history in conservation

Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1890-1998) was a conservationist, author, journalist, and leader in the women’s suffrage movement. Her 1947 book The Everglades: River of Grass highlighted the beauty and ecological importance of Florida’s Everglades. Her work brought a new perspective of the Everglades to the public who had previously viewed the area as a worthless swamp and helped protect the area from development. "It is a woman's business to be interested in the environment," said Douglas. “It's an extended form of housekeeping."

Margaret Murie
Margaret Murie
Margaret “Mardy” Murie (1902 -2003) has been called the “Grandmother of Conservation” by the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society. As an early advocate for public lands, she was most influential in her roles establishing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and sowing the seeds for the Wilderness Act of 1964.






Rachel Carson
Rachel Carson
Rachel Carson (1907-1964) is best known for her 1961 book Silent Spring, which highlighted the environmental dangers of the widespread use of pesticides, primarily DDT. Silent Spring inspired the modern environmental movement and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.


Mollie Beattie (1947 – 1996) was the first female director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1993-1996. As one of the strongest voice for conservation during the Clinton Administration, she passed the addition of 15 national wildlife refuges and oversaw the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone.

Women making history in conservation


Gina McCarthy
Gina McCarthy
Gina McCarthy is a leading advocate for public health and the environment. She served as the head of the EPA from 2013-2017 where, among other victories, she signed the Clean Power Plan which created the first national standards for carbon emissions from power plants. She has continued to fight for climate action after the Clean Power Plan (RIP) and other environmental policies have been repealed by the Trump administration.




Winnie Byanyima
Winnie Byanyima
Winnie Byanyima Although climate change disproportionally affects women, there are still fewer women in climate science and policy than men. Winnie Byanyima is changing this. Not only was she the first female Ugandan to become an aeronautical engineer, she is now the Executive Director of Oxfam International and a leading voice on the gender dimensions of climate change. She co-founded the Global Gender and Climate Alliance which “works to ensure that climate change policies, decision-making, and initiatives at the global, regional and national levels are gender responsive which is critical to solving the climate crisis.”


Mary Powell is the President and CEO of Green Mountain Power, a Vermont electric utility company that is redefining the way utility companies do business. She has moved the company’s energy portfolio to utilize renewable energy such as wind and solar rather than fossil fuels and is an advocate for to reduce Vermont’s reliance on fossil fuels. She was named Top 25 Most Influential Women by CEO Connection and honored as a Women in Conservation by the Audubon Society.  


Winona LaDuke
Winona LaDuke
Winona LaDuke is an environmental activist and voice for Tribal land preservation. She is the executive director of Honor the Earth and founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project. She and her organization played an active role in protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline and has brought public attention and support to the importance of protecting Tribal lands. Not to mention, in 2016 she was the first Native American woman to receive an electoral vote for Vice President of the United States when she ran with the Green Party.


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