Revisiting perceptions and evolving culture: a community dialogue on women in polar research

  • Sandra Starkweather Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA
  • M. Seag Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  • O. Lee International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, USA
  • A. Pope International Arctic Science Committee, Akureyri, Iceland
Keywords: Gender, equity, harassment, culture, science, Open Science Conference


Women have made outstanding contributions to polar research in recent decades, though full engagement may be hindered by persistent inequities, including notably the prevalence of workplace harassment. Remote field settings, such as those pervasive in polar research, have been identified as particularly susceptible to cultures of harassment. It was therefore timely at the Polar 2018 Open Science Conference in Davos, Switzerland, to convene a discussion focused on women’s perspectives and experiences. A panel discussion—“From Entering the Field to Taking the Helm: Perspectives of Women in Polar Research”—took place on 20 June 2018 and featured five women undertaking work from marine biotechnology to organizational leadership, across career levels. Over 300 conference attendees joined the lunchtime panel. The panellists’ perspectives on historical barriers, current challenges and future prospects revealed that while challenges persist, experiences vary greatly. Audience engagement underscored the need to sustain dialogue at polar meetings, to bring visibility to the statistics related to workplace harassment and to encourage polar science organizations to assume leadership on promoting equitable workplace culture.


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How to Cite
Starkweather, S., Seag, M., Lee, O., & Pope, A. (2018). Revisiting perceptions and evolving culture: a community dialogue on women in polar research. Polar Research, 37. Retrieved from