#Germany, #AlfredWegenerInstitut; #MOSAiCPolarResearchExpedition; #Sexism
Germany, Oct 6 (Canadian-Media): Antje Boetius, the director of the Alfred-Wegener-Institut, which led the year-long MOSAiC polar research expedition, says dress codes that prohibit female participants from wearing tight-fitting clothing are not meant to be sexist, media reports said.
MOSAiC polar research expedition. Image credit: website
Antje Boetius' announcement came days after an incident of sexual harassment on the ship, placing blame on female passengers and their dress codes, journalist Chelsea Harvey reported.
"These clothing regulations are so normal for people joining expeditions, and they are existing on research vessels worldwide," Antje Boetius told CBC. "It would have not occurred to me that this was linked to gender," CBC News reported.
Billed as the world's largest and longest polar research mission, the MOSAiC Expedition aimed at making groundbreaking observations about the changing climate embedded scientists in Arctic sea ice for one year.
During the mission's final phase, female participants aboard the mission's support ship 11 months previously had been told wearing tight or revealing clothing could pose a "safety risk" with men at sea for an extended period.
The Alfred-Wegener-Institut did not initially comment on Harvey's reporting when it was first published in September.
But amid growing reaction to CBC's reporting on the story, the institute released a lengthy statement accusing the CBC and Harvey of "scandaliz[ing] and sexualiz[ing] gender-neutral regulations that are perfectly commonplace on commercial and research vessels."
"We were told there are a lot of men on board this ship … and some of them are going to be on board this ship for months at a time," Harvey told CBC last month. "In my meeting … what we were told was this was a 'safety issue.'"
The statement signed by 18 members of the MOSAiC School, saying that policies made on this cruise, and the communication of those policies implied that "women's dress may invite or justify experiencing harassment or misconduct."
Even though many leading polar institutions are led by women, sexism still widespread in the sciences, and in polar research in particular multiple studies revealed that numbers of female researchers experience some form of harassment in their careers.
But Boetius was perplexed that the clothing policy described by Harvey could be perceived as sexist.
"We think there are many more important issues to address," she said and added,
"For all the struggles we fight, to think that coming with clean clothes to a mess room, that this is a gender issue," she said, "this is not the fight we need to fight."