Date of Award

Spring 4-30-2018

Semester of Degree


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. in Environmental Science


Environmental Science, Division of

Major Professor

Elizabeth Vidon


Theresa Selfa

Steering Committee Member

Andrea Parker

Steering Committee Member

Christina Limpert


American wilderness is a unique and socially constructed landscape. I argue that current wilderness perceptions are perpetuated by tourism, which profits off wilderness as ripe with risk and uncertainty. This in turn creates wilderness as a gendered, masculine space commonly perceived as “authentic wilderness”, but where women are often invisible or seen as ill-suited within. Through surveys and interviews with women active in wilderness recreation and on social media, it was found that women’s use of Facebook, Instagram, and Blogs, increases empowerment and promotes participation in activities through constraints negotiation and contributes to the deconstruction of conventional gender expectations. Women’s only Facebook groups, more specifically, offered safe spaces of support and community for active participants and also those who have not yet participated in wilderness spaces. Social media use actively increases women’s physical and visual presence in wilderness spaces, challenging the assumption that their place is outside of wilderness.