A safe hike

Lilace Mellin Guignard is collecting women’s views on safety and the outdoors.

Lilace Mellin Guignard is collecting women’s views on safety and the outdoors.

Photo by David Robert

So, women, do you ever turn down a chance to hike in the wilderness or go for a walk in the park at night because you feel it might be too dangerous? Or do you feel safer a few miles out in the boonies than you do in downtown Reno?

If you’re a female over the age of 18 living in the United States, a UNR grad student wants to know about your outdoor experiences. Lilace Mellin Guignard, a master’s degree candidate in UNR’s Literature and Environment program, has crafted a survey for women, the results of which will guide Guignard’s thesis on women’s attitudes on hiking, animals and even how it feels to not shower for a few days.

“It’s about how women use spaces, what spaces they choose to use and how they decide risk for themselves,” Guignard says.

For example, statistics would show that a woman hiking a few miles from a trail head is likely to be safer than a woman walking in an urban park. “Serial killers don’t like to go on multi-mile hikes,” Guignard suggests. And for many women, the most dangerous place to be is home—where domestic violence claims a far higher percentage of woman than any outdoor activity.

“There is no such thing as real safety,” Guignard says.

So a woman often makes choices based on perceived dangers. The messages a woman receives about safety can often be traced to her upbringing.

“Risk is something everyone defines for herself, based on what’s defined as a benefit,” Guignard says.

Guignard will use the survey info and several one-on-one interviews with women to complete her thesis and eventually to write a book. Participation in the online survey is confidential and open to any women—regardless of how much time they spend outdoors.

“The goal is to collect a wide range of perceptions,” Guignard says.

You can take the survey at www.unr.nevada.edu/~lilace.