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Gender-Based Safety Concerns: Women Workers in Antarctica Left Unprotected Against Sexual Harassment

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Revelations from AP's Investigation into Sexual Harassment and Assault at Antarctica's McMurdo Station

A recent investigation by the Associated Press has shed light on the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault at Antarctica's McMurdo Station, exposing a disturbing pattern of misconduct and inadequate response by employers.

A Culture of Harassment

The isolated environment and macho culture at the research center have allowed harassment and assault to thrive, with 59% of women reporting experiencing such behavior, according to a report by the National Science Foundation (NSF). However, the problem extends beyond harassment. The AP's review of court records, internal communications, and interviews with current and former employees revealed instances where claims of harassment or assault were downplayed, putting victims and others at further risk.

Lack of Action and Accountability

Women who reported incidents often faced minimal consequences for the perpetrators. In some cases, victims were made to work alongside their harassers again, while others were fired after reporting assaults. The contractors and subcontractors overseeing the U.S. Antarctic Program, including Leidos and PAE, have been criticized for their handling of these cases.
Call for Change
The NSF report triggered a Congressional investigation, leading to promises of improved safety measures. However, concerns remain about the effectiveness of these measures and the accountability of future contractors. Victims and advocates are calling for stronger action to ensure the safety and well-being of employees in Antarctica. The bravery of those who have come forward highlights the urgent need for change in addressing sexual harassment and assault in the remote research facility. The recent revelations from the AP's investigation into sexual harassment and assault at Antarctica's McMurdo Station have far-reaching implications for new businesses, particularly those in isolated or male-dominated environments. The disturbing pattern of misconduct and inadequate response by employers highlights a critical need for robust policies and procedures to protect employees. In the context of a new business, this underscores the importance of establishing a strong culture of respect and accountability from the outset. Furthermore, the mishandling of harassment and assault claims by contractors and subcontractors overseeing the U.S. Antarctic Program serves as a stark reminder of the potential reputational damage and legal consequences that can result from failing to adequately address such issues. New businesses must prioritize the safety and well-being of their employees, ensuring that all incidents are taken seriously and that perpetrators face appropriate consequences. The call for change following the NSF report is a call to all businesses to do better. The courage of those who have come forward to share their experiences at McMurdo Station is a testament to the urgent need for change. New businesses have the opportunity to lead by example, demonstrating that a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment and assault is not only morally right but also good for business.
Story First Published at: https://financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/women-working-in-antarctica-say-they-were-left-to-fend-for-themselves-against-sexual-harassers
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