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Gendered power relations and sexual harassment in Antarctic science in the age of #metoo


Nash, M and Nielsen, H, Gendered power relations and sexual harassment in Antarctic science in the age of #metoo, Australian Feminist Studies pp. 1-12. ISSN 0816-4649 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

DOI: doi:10.1080/08164649.2020.1774864


Antarctica is a remote, historically masculine place. It is also a workplace, and the human interactions there are connected to power structures and gendered expectations. Today, more than half early career polar researchers are women. However, women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM) are also more likely than men to experience sexual harassment during fieldwork making questions of safety, power, and harassment pertinent. Gender equity initiatives coupled with #MeToo have provided new platforms for reporting sexual harassment and challenging problematic research cultures which position science as meritocratic and gender-neutral. Yet, the impact of #MeToo in Antarctic science is uneven. Following revelations of his harassment of female graduate students in the international media, the termination of Professor David Marchant is widely cited as evidence that #MeToo is positively affecting Antarctic science. We argue it is problematic to focus on individual cases at the expense of the wider culture. We examine the complex historical (e.g. gendered interactions with the Antarctic landscape), cultural (e.g. identity politics), and relational (e.g. gendered power dynamics) tensions underpinning recent #MeToo revelations in Antarctic science with a view to providing more nuanced approaches to structural change.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:women in STEM, antarctica, sexual harassment, #MeToo, #TimesUp, fieldwork, remote
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Social change
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Nash, M (Associate Professor Meredith Nash)
UTAS Author:Nielsen, H (Dr Hanne Nielsen)
ID Code:135518
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2019-10-29
Last Modified:2020-07-28

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