Australian women working at research bases in Antarctica have been plagued by a pervasive culture of sexual harassment, according to a recently released report.
The report, commissioned by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), notes that women reported unwanted requests for sex, inappropriate sexual comments and displays of offensive or pornographic material.
“Given the underrepresentation of women in the AAP (Australian Antarctic Program) (especially during the winter), some women also described the culture as ‘predatory’ and objectifying,” the report said, while other participants described a homophobic culture at the stations. .
The report, by Associate Professor Meredith Nash of the University of Tasmania, also revealed that female expeditioners feel they “must go to great lengths to make their menstruation invisible” and go through “extra physical and psychological work to control” the menstruation, including changing your menstrual products without privacy or proper sanitation.
Australian Environment and Water Minister Tanya Plibersek said in an interview with Australian public broadcaster ABC that she was “stunned” upon reading the report.
“Let me be absolutely clear: There is no place for sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior in any workplace,” Plibersek said in a statement Thursday, calling the treatment outlined in the report “unacceptable.”
The report made recommendations on how to change the culture at the stations, including creating an “equity and inclusion task force.”
Plibersek said the Australian Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water is working on the recommendations.
Australia is not alone in fighting these problems.
The report on Australian research bases in Antarctica comes a month after the US National Science Foundation (NSF) released an assessment of the US Antarctic Program that found that “sexual harassment, stalking, and sexual assault are constant and ongoing problems in the USAP community. .”