Antarctica is the most isolated and remote continent on Earth in more ways than one.

Open any history book on the frozen land and you’ll see almost entirely men pictured for much of the 20th century.

There have been many pioneering female scientists and expeditioners over the decades but the reality is women remain under-represented on the ice.

To address this, the Australian Antarctic Division is continuing to make changes that will encourage and support more women to work in Antarctica. Women play a significant role in today’s Australian Antarctic Program. Here’s a snapshot of new and returning faces.

Maddie Ovens, Field Training Officer, Casey research station 2023

As a field training officer my role involves training expeditioners in the skills they need to stay safe in the harsh Antarctic environment. Everything from how to set up a tent, make emergency shelters, stay warm, navigate in a blizzard, use communications equipment, rescue someone from a crevasse, even how to use the toilet in -30°C!

I also assist scientists in getting out into the field safely to access their sites for research, and form part of the Search and Rescue team on station.

I spent a summer in 2018/19, and summer/winter season at Casey in 2021. I applied for the position because it just sounded like my dream opportunity and something that I would kick myself for not giving a go. Like many, I suspect, Antarctica has always held a kind of unknown and magical appeal to me since I was little. So when I found out I might be able to get paid to go there, I went for it.

I think the sense of community we have living and working together on station for an extended period of time is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. Just being down there together, only having each other to rely on and working to achieve a safe season is really special.

We are also forced to get creative and come up with fun ways to spend our time - dress up parties, karaoke, mini golf, dart competitions, ski days - it’s a great time!

Annette Fear, Chef, Macquarie Island research station 2023

In Antarctica you get so many opportunities to do things that you wouldn’t do normally. You can be on the fire or search and rescue teams, or work in the library or as a lay surgical assistant. There’s a lot of things that you can do to take you out of your comfort zone, or you can do things that you’re more comfortable with.

One of the best things about living in Antarctica is friendship. I’ve made a few friends that I know will be friends for life, and that’s pretty special. The job itself is a highlight. I love what I do here. And just general station life and doing a job that does take you outside of your comfort zone if you’re looking for something a little bit more challenging.

If you’re thinking about applying, look at your family situation and at yourself personally. Are you someone that can get on in a group situation? Talk to all your family and friends first, because after you get over the initial excitement it is a long time to be away.

Cat Humphries, Mawson Station Leader 2023

I've always had a drive for adventure and a challenge, and seeing Antarctica on the news has just drawn me to that sense of adventure; the sense of something new.

I've never been south to Antarctica before. I’ve pretty much never been south of Tasmania before, so this is very much a new experience for me.

As a station leader we need to be able to look after our community, to see what people require, both for their physical and mental wellbeing, and to ensure that they pull together as a community and look after themselves and look after each other.

I'm expecting my time in Antarctica to be something completely new to my experience, something that I haven't had a chance to experience before, and the flora, the fauna, the sheer size of the continent is something that I'm very much looking forward to.

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