The central role played by women in the success of the Australian Antarctic Program is being recognised as part of International Women’s Day 2020.

Director of the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), Mr Kim Ellis, said the International Women’s Day theme of gender equality as ‘essential for economies and communities to thrive’ is highly relevant to Antarctica.

“Having just spent nearly two months at all our research stations in Antarctica, I can’t speak highly enough of the women who work there,” he said.

“Women are central to Australia’s Antarctic endeavours and my aim is that the Program better reflects the gender balance we see in Australia, and improve it where necessary.”

Over the last five years, about a quarter of Australia’s Antarctic population are women.

“In scientific fields and across a number of leadership and station operation roles, we have seen a greater balance in the numbers of males and females in the Program,” Mr Ellis said.

“We have not had the same success in attracting women to trade roles, particularly across the mechanical and infrastructure trades.”

“Our numbers tend to reflect national trends in Australian industry for lower female participation rates in these roles and the specific fields that women are more likely to pursue, so we have to work harder to attract women to apply for these positions.”

Mr Ellis said the Australian Antarctic Division is fully committed to its pursuit of sustained gender equality and improved female participation rates across all levels of the organisation.

“The AAD is very keen to engage with women in trades early in their career to highlight opportunities with the Program, and encourage them to pursue training and employment pathways that will provide the required qualifications and experience.”

“We want more women in trades to become aware of the Australian Antarctic Program and encourage more women to apply.”