Sexual harassment and discrimination against women doing scientific research in Antarctica

The report of Associate Professor Meredith Nash from the University of Tasmania commissioned by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) revealed the sexual harassment and discrimination suffered by women at scientific workstations in Antarctica. Associate Professor Nash interviewed 22 women working at these Australian government-run stations, held informal interviews with station staff for 12 months, and attended committee meetings. Nash, who reported his results to the AAD earlier this year, emphasized that women experience an example of sexism ‘everyday’ in the Headquarters and stated that there are pornographic jokes and drawings on the walls of the offices.


Nash described the events experienced by women as follows;

“Participants observed that women were subjected to a range of harassment, including uninvited physical contact or gestures, requests for unsolicited sexual intercourse, sexual comments, jokes or innuendo, display of offensive or pornographic material, and gender-based insults or sarcasm, and unsolicited solicitation.”


Australian Environment and Water Minister Tanya Plibersek published the summary of Nash’s report on the ministry’s page yesterday, stating that she had heard about the report shortly before, and that she was shocked and disappointed as people read their stories.

Minister Plibersek said, “Let me be absolutely clear: there is no room for sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior in any workplace. The Australian Antarctic Division is no exception. Our remote stations in Antarctica are no exception. I want you to know how seriously I take this report. The behavior outlined in the report is unacceptable and will not be accepted. The work of the department is crucial: for our national interests, for science and the environment, for the future of this planet. It is too important to be tarnished and belittled by prejudice and harassment.” The ministry said in a separate statement yesterday that they have launched an independent investigation. The ministry, which also published the CV of the person who will carry out the investigation, emphasized that they will announce the results of the investigation until 12 December.

Source: DHA