Women in the National Park Service: The First 100 Years

The National Park Service (NPS) is established.

World War I creates labor shortages that result in women being hired temporarily into positions usually occupied by young men. Such is the case for Yosemite National Park's Clare Marie Hodges, the first woman ranger in the NPS.

The 19th Amendment gives women the right to vote.

Gertrude Cooper becomes Superintendent of Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site. She is the first woman superintendent in the NPS.

Title VII is made law, prohibiting discrimination by employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. More NPS jobs become open to women.

The NPS female uniform is changed from previous versions that "did not look like a ranger," as they were usually dresses or skirts, and had smaller badges than male counterparts. Learn more about a 1960s woman's uniform in the Joshua Tree park collections, or see other examples of the uniforms worn by women over the years.

Barbara Booher becomes the first Native American woman superintendent in the NPS when she takes on the leadership of Custer National Monument.

Fran P. Mainella is appointed as the 16th Director of the National Park Service. Her successor is Mary A. Bomar, the only other woman to hold the position to date. Also in 2001, Gale Norton is appointed as the first woman Secretary of the Interior (NPS is an agency of the Department of the Interior).

NPS Women's History Initiative is announced, a deliberate effort to improve how the National Park System tells women's stories.

The NPS Centennial year. Women make up about 40% of the total NPS workforce. Joshua Tree National Park has yet to be led by a female superintendent.

Last updated: January 31, 2017

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