Every March, we celebrate Women’s History Month, a month-long dedication to the achievements of women and their contributions to history and contemporary society. When considering history-making women, you may think of Elizabeth Blackwell (the first woman to graduate from medical school in the U.S.), Marie Curie (the first female Nobel Prize winner), or Margaret Thatcher (the first female Prime Minister of England). There’s still plenty of history to be made, and this month we’ll be highlighting just a few of the adventurous women out in the world today, breaking records and showing that all women are making history.
Betty Reid Soskin
At the age of 99, Betty Reid Soskin is the oldest active National Park Ranger in the U.S. When Betty was just six, she moved to California, where she would go on to graduate from high school and face two options: work in agriculture or become a domestic servant. But due to the war effort in 1942, new opportunities arose. Betty got a job at a shipyard, which would eventually become Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front Park, where she still works today.
When the National Park Service began the plans for Rosie the Riveter Park, Betty and other “Rosies” were invited to the presentation. As the only woman of color in the room, Betty had invaluable insight into the history of racism and segregation in the area, and therefore was invited to help them design the park. At the age of 85, she became a National Park Ranger. After a life filled with experiences that included operating a record store, working with the Black Panthers, assisting in a drug-prevention project, and working in Berkeley City Hall, Betty came full circle back to where she first forged her own path.
“If we don’t know where we started, we have no way of knowing how far we’ve come”Betty Reid Soskin
Lhakpa has been around Mt. Everest since an early age—her first job was as a porter, delivering supplies to base camps, at the age of 15. At the time, it was uncommon for women to be porters, but she wanted to prove that she could handle the heavy loads. Fast forward to 2000, when Lhakpa wrote the Nepalese government and sponsors, asking them to fund an all-Sherpa women’s expedition of Everest. Lhakpa became the first Nepalese woman to summit Everest and make it back down alive. She and her climbing partner were the only ones in the group to make it to the top.
Lhakpa went on to summit the mountain eight more times, and weeks before she was due to depart for her 10th attempt, the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. As the most successful female summiter of Everest, her story is often overshadowed, as Sherpa climbers are often viewed as a collective, dimming individual accomplishments of each climber. Despite this, Lhakpa carries on, preparing for her next summit attempt with no sponsors, trainers, or nutritionists—just herself and her desire to inspire others.
I learned that my abilities can show that Nepali women can enjoy the outdoors.Lhakpa Sherpa
Christina was star bound from an early age, eventually earning a BS in Electrical Engineering and Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering before working a myriad of positions with NASA. After participating in the NASA Academy Program, working as an Electrical Engineer, and spending a year working at the South Pole, she was chosen as part of the 21st NASA Astronaut Class—the first class to be comprised of 50% women.
In 2018, Christina was assigned her first space flight and went on to be a part of the first all-women spacewalk. That mission ended up being the longest single spaceflight by a woman, an astounding 328-day journey in space. And she’ll be back again soon—Christina has been assigned to Artemis Team and is preparing for her next adventure…to the moon!
“I see a world where women are selected into the astronaut corps and it’s not even a surprise.”Christina koch
Jessica is no stranger to traveling. As the daughter of Ugandan immigrants, she dreamed of visiting every country in the world from a young age. Jessica spent time as a child and teen in East Africa, and went on to teach English in Japan, got her Master’s degree in London, moved to West Africa and worked for an NGO, then worked for the UN in Italy. After reading about a Guinness World Record on the fastest visit to all sovereign countries, she developed a new goal.
After two and a half years, and averaging around four days per country, Jessica has now visited all 190 countries in the world—including North Korea and Syria. On top of her record-breaking travel, she’s working on Jet Black, a boutique luxury travel company. Where’s her first stop after the COVID-19 pandemic? Cuba!
“What traveling shows you is no matter if you’re Muslim or Jewish, Black or White, male or female, we’re all just human beings.”Jessica Nabongo