These women came to Antarctica in search of science. Then the predators arose | Trending Viral hub


12th April, In 2019, Boston University finally fired David Marchant for sexually harassing Willenbring. (The university said it could not corroborate his claims of physical and psychological abuse.) Marchant issued a statement, which the magazine Science quoted as saying that he had “never” sexually harassed anyone, “not in 1998 or 1999 in Antarctica or at any time since.” But thanks to Willenbring, the word spread.

Following this scandal, the National Science Foundation commissioned an outside study on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Antarctica research facilities. The extensive report, made public in August 2022, contained shocking allegations of assault, stalking and harassment. Britt Barquist, the former fuel foreman, had a contract in McMurdo with a company now called Amentum. She supervised a team of about 20 people performing the dangerous work of handling and cleaning diesel and gasoline fuel tanks. One day, at the end of November 2017, she tells me, she was sitting at a table next to a man who held a high position at Leidos, the company that manages the Antarctic research stations. She had been giving a briefing to staff when he touched her in plain sight.

When she discussed it with her supervisor, he said that he had witnessed part of the incident himself. His boss reported it to Amentum’s human resources department. “I told HR I never want to be around him again. “I’m afraid of this person,” Barquist says, “and they said, ‘It’s okay.’”

But in 2020, during another period working with McMurdo’s contractor, he was told he would attend weekly virtual meetings with that same senior official. Barquist, who needed the job, downplayed it. “It was just disgusting and horrible to have to look at his face and listen to him talk,” he says, “only to see him treated like a normal guy, when in my head I’m thinking, ‘This guy is a predator.'” . Why does everyone act like he’s a normal person?’”

The following year, towards the end of nearly three weeks of Covid quarantine with a crew in New Zealand, he scanned the manifest for an upcoming flight to Antarctica and saw the senior official’s name on it. When she called her human resources department about a spotty connection to complain about it, she says she was met with obstinacy by two officials, one of whom had been introduced as a victim advocate.

“I said I didn’t want to be around this guy yet,” he tells me, “but they said, ‘So how do you suggest we deal with this?’” Barquist becomes emotional as she remembers her conversation with the two women. from her employer. “I thought they were going to be on my side,” she says. Instead, they continued to press her about the fear she felt being around him.

“I finally said, ‘Yes,’” she says, “’I feel insecure being alone in a room with him!’” Then the signal went out, she says, and she never managed to reconnect with them. Barquist flew back to Antarctica, where she attempted to avoid the senior official. But since the safety of her team depended on her communicating with him almost daily, she finally relented.


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