Joan Blades on Arlene Blum

“A woman’s place is on top.”

“A woman’s place is on top.” Scientist and mountaineer Arlene Blum sold t-shirts with this quote to fund the first American/female expedition to climb Annapurna. Activist Joan Blades tells the story of this adventurous, brilliant chemist whose research into carcinogens is saving lives.


Joan Blades

Joan Blades is a co-founder of an open source effort to rebuild respectful civil discourse across ideological, cultural and party lines while embracing our core-shared values. She is also a co-founder of  and She is a co-author of The Custom-Fit Workplace, winner of a Nautilus book award in 2011 and The Motherhood Manifesto, which won the Ernesta Drinker Ballard Book Prize in 2007. A mediator (attorney) by training and inclination, she is a nature lover, artist and true believer in the power of citizens and our need to rebuild respectful civil discourse while embracing our core shared values.

Featured Woman

Arlene Blum

Arlene Blum Ph.D., chemist, author, and mountaineer is a Research Associate in Chemistry at UC Berkeley and Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute. Blum led the first American ascent of Annapurna I; the Great Himalayan Traverse across the mountain regions of Bhutan, Nepal, and India; and hiked the length of the European Alps with her baby daughter on her back. Her current “mountain” is to work with decision makers in business and government to reduce the use of classes of chemicals of concern for healthier products, people and planet. Arlene Blum received her Ph.D. in Biophysical Chemistry from UC Berkeley and has taught at UC Berkeley, Stanford University, and Wellesley College.

Book: “Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life” by Arlene Blum (Mariner Books). Photo of Arlene Blum on mountain by Richard Isherwood. Arlene Blum headshot by John Kokosha. Photo of Arlene Blum with baby by Peter Molnar.