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'Antarctica just has this hero factor...': Gendered barriers to Australian Antarctic research and remote fieldwork

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Nash, MB ORCID: 0000-0002-7429-4924, Nielsen, HEF ORCID: 0000-0002-2761-7727, Shaw, J, King, MA ORCID: 0000-0001-5611-9498, Lea, MA ORCID: 0000-0001-8318-9299 and Bax, N 2019 , ''Antarctica just has this hero factor...': Gendered barriers to Australian Antarctic research and remote fieldwork' , PLoS ONE, vol. 14, no. 1 , pp. 1-22 , doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0209983.

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Abstract

Antarctica is often associated with images of masculine figures battling against the blizzard. The pervasiveness of heroic white masculine leadership and exploration in Antarctica and, more broadly, in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM) research cultures, has meant women have had lesser access to Antarctic research and fieldwork opportunities, with a marked increase since the 1980s. This article presents findings from an exploratory online survey examining how 95 women experienced research and remote Antarctic fieldwork with the Australian Antarctic Program. Although women are entering polar science in greater numbers, a key theme of the qualitative findings of this survey is that gendered barriers to participation in research and fieldwork persist. We discuss five key gendered barriers including: 1) Physical barriers, 2) Caring responsibilities/unpaid work, 3) Cultural sexism/gender bias, 4) Lack of opportunities/recognition, and 5) Unwanted male attention/sexual harassment. We argue that the lack of attention paid to gender and sexuality in polar fieldwork contributes to the invisibility and exclusion of women and other marginalized identities broadly. To conclude, we point to the importance of targeted inclusivity, diversity and equity initiatives through Antarctic research globally and specifically by National Antarctic Programs.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Nash, MB and Nielsen, HEF and Shaw, J and King, MA and Lea, MA and Bax, N
Keywords: women in STEMM, antarctica, fieldwork, gender
Journal or Publication Title: PLoS ONE
Publisher: Public Library of Science
ISSN: 1932-6203
DOI / ID Number: 10.1371/journal.pone.0209983
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2019 Nash et al. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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