Science

These Women Came to Antarctica for Science. Then the Predators Emerged


On April 12, 2019, Boston College lastly fired David Marchant for sexually harassing Willenbring. (The college mentioned it couldn’t corroborate her claims of bodily and psychological abuse.) Marchant launched a press release, which the journal Science quoted as vowing that he had “by no means” sexually harassed anybody, “not in 1998 or 1999 in Antarctica or at any time since.” However due to Willenbring, the phrase was out.

Reeling within the wake of this scandal, the Nationwide Science Basis commissioned an outdoor research on sexual assault and sexual harassment on the Antarctic analysis amenities. The prolonged report, made public in August 2022, had surprising allegations of assault, stalking, and harassment. Britt Barquist, the previous gasoline foreman, was on contract at McMurdo with an organization now known as Amentum. She oversaw a crew of about 20 who did the damaging work of dealing with and cleansing diesel and gasoline gasoline tanks. At some point in late November 2017, she tells me, she was sitting at a desk alongside a person who held a senior place at Leidos, the corporate managing the Antarctic analysis stations. He’d been working a briefing for the employees when he groped her in plain view.

When she talked about it along with her supervisor, he mentioned he’d witnessed a few of the incident himself. His boss reported it to the human assets division at Amentum. “I informed HR that I don’t need to be anyplace round him ever once more. I’m afraid of this individual,” Barquist says, “And so they mentioned, ‘OK.’”

However in 2020, throughout one other stint working with the McMurdo contractor, she was informed she’d be attending weekly digital conferences with that very same senior official. Barquist, who wanted the job, downplayed it to herself. “It was simply disgusting and terrible to have to take a look at his face and hearken to him discuss,” she says, “simply to see him handled as a standard man, when in my head I’m like, ‘This man is a predator. Why is everybody simply performing like he’s some regular individual?’”

The subsequent yr, towards the tip of practically three weeks of Covid quarantine with a crew in New Zealand, she’d scanned the manifest for an upcoming flight to Antarctica and noticed the senior official’s title on it. When she known as her HR division over a spotty connection to complain, she says she was met with obstinance by two officers, one in all whom had been launched as a sufferer’s advocate.

“I mentioned I nonetheless don’t need to be round this man,” she tells me, “however they mentioned, ‘So how do you recommend we cope with this?’” Barquist will get emotional as she remembers her dialog with the 2 ladies from her employer. “I believed they have been going to be on my facet,” she says. As an alternative, they saved urgent her as to how afraid she felt to be round him.

“I lastly was like, ‘Sure,’” she says, “‘I really feel unsafe being alone in a room with him!’” Then the sign dropped, she says, and he or she by no means managed to reconnect with them. Barquist flew again to Antarctica, the place she tried to keep away from the senior official. However as her staff’s security trusted her speaking with him on an almost every day foundation, she ultimately relented.



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