Adventure and the gender gap: acknowledging diversity of experience

Document Type


Publication details

Wilson, E & Little, DE 2005 'Adventure and the gender gap: acknowledging diversity of experience', Loisir et Societe/Society & Leisure, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 185-208.

Peer Reviewed



Traditionally, descriptions of adventure recreation have tended to incorporate a limited range of physically isolated and challenging activities. More recently, the concept of adventure has been used quite broadly within the leisure field (e.g. the 'adventure' of visiting nature; tourist promotions of 'adventurous' fun), but popular media portrayals of adventure continue to promote the extreme and remote. While these latter risk-laden portrayals reflect the experiences of a few, it is the premise of this paper that a broader perception and experience of adventure can be found in more everyday events and activities. In support of recent feminist research, this paper describes women's perceptions and experiences of adventure and suggests that adventure recreation has wider parameters than previously acknowledged. Based on results of semi-structured in-depth interviews with 82 women participants in adventure activities (e.g. solo travel, white water kayaking), the findings show that women struggle to identify with popular media presentations of adventure, but they do experience individual adventure in multiple ways. Through personal challenges and newness, adventure can be experienced without the requisite of extreme physical challenge or exclusive remoteness. Subsequently, it is suggested that broader social and professional meanings of adventure need to be acknowledged, allowing people to identify with adventure and gain the benefits from adventure recreation.

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