Just Tell Them I Survived! Women in Antarctica

By Robin Burns | Go to book overview

Preface and acknowledgments

I began this book with the conviction that it was time to record the ways in which women contribute to our knowledge of Antarctica, and to the life on Antarctic stations, field sites and expeditions. I wanted to find out how women came to go South; about their longings, persistence in the face of opposition, expectations and experiences; and to celebrate the diversity of occupations, projects and achievements there. In a way, it was intended as a vicarious experience, since I did not believe when I began that a social scientist in her fifties would be able to join a national expedition. However, as I met women who had been to Antarctica, they suggested that I should try, and helped and encouraged me at every stage, so that in the austral summer of 1995–96 I spent three months at Casey station on an Antarctic Science Advisory Committee (ASAC) project.

It has been difficult to find adequate ways to capture and present the rich diversity of women's experiences of Antarctica, and their perspectives on gender issues, station life, the future of expeditions and the Antarctic itself. My apologies for any omissions, and for the brevity of most of the quotations from interviews: with 130 interviews in total, it has been a huge task to sort and select! I undertook not to present the interview material as biography; some women have requested anonymity, so I have used pseudonyms for them, as well as in dealing with sensitive material. I have tried hard to avoid material that would cause distress or embarrassment.

Inevitably, my beliefs and perceptions—as an older woman and

-xii-

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