Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2000


Published in Great Plains Research 10 (Fall 2000). Copyright © 2000 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Women and Nature begins with the statement that generations of women have revered nature and explored their relationships with it. Why have they been overlooked? The book is not so much the story of nature and the women in it, but a listing of particular women and their efforts in writing, drawing, and promoting environmental awareness, preservation, and activism.

Many have been aware of the strong ties among women, animals, and nature. As one pamphlet states: "Nature is no mere mechanism, inanimate and insensible. But nature is more like women, whose real law is sympathy." Thus, the book sets out to rectify the omissions with name after name of women who have been active in this terrain.

Glenda Riley takes a historical view of the women and their problems establishing themselves as serious participants and scholars in the environmental field, problems have been male dominance and the mistrust of women's professional abilities. In 1889, for instance, male members of photographic societies and camera clubs threatened to resign if female members were admitted. One photographer, Catharine Weed Barnes, responded in print to a man who styled himself "perplexed" that clubs might be better off without such members.