Forty-five years ago the first six women set foot at the South Pole in November 1969. These women were: New Zealander Pamela Young who worked under the New Zealand Antarctic programme as a field assistant to her biologist husband; Lois Jones, a geochemist at Ohio State University, who headed an all-female team consisting of Terry Lee Tickhill Terrell, Eileen McSaveney and Kay Lindsay to a study lakes in Antarctica's Dry Valleys and Jean Pearson, a reporter for the Detroit Free Press.

In the late 1960's it was still unthinkable for female scientists to actually travel to the ice. Up till then Antarctica had been mainly a men's world, but with the Women's Liberation Movement things changed. In the United States in 1969, the Navy finally lifted its ban to fly women to Antarctica, and officials at the National Science Foundation who previously did not allow women to work in Antarctica began inviting female scientists to submit research proposals.

The first women to set foot at the South Pole in November 1969 are Pam Young, Lois Jones, Terry Tickhill, Eileen McSaveney, Kay Lindsay and Jean Pearson together with Rear Admiral D. F. Welch, Credit: Rear Admiral Kelly Welch who provided these official US Navy photos, via southpolestation.com
The first women to set foot at the South Pole in November 1969 are Pam Young, Lois Jones, Terry Tickhill, Eileen McSaveney, Kay Lindsay and Jean Pearson together with Rear Admiral D. F. Welch, Credit: Rear Admiral Kelly Welch who provided these official US Navy photos, via southpolestation.com

During the 1969-1970 Antarctic season, the first women were finally included in the United States and New Zealand Antarctic Programs. But before they started their field work they were flown for publicity reasons to the South Pole. The media hype was huge and when the cargo ramp of the LC-130 plane opened they all walked together out onto the ice, so that not one of them would be the first woman. After posing for many photos and a guided tour around Amundsen Scott Base they flew back to McMurdo Station and onwards to their respective field sites.

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Though she was not on the journey to the South Pole Christine Muller-Schwarze, a Ph.D. psychologist from Utah State University was also on the ice during that season studying penguin behaviour in Antarctica along with her scientist husband. All together there were seven women that year, but once the doors had opened by these pioneers many more women came to Antarctica

Today females are still a minority in Antarctica and some still have to struggle against stereotypes, but things have changed. Approximately 10% of the scientific staff are women nowadays and counting scientists and support crews this ration can rise to 30% on some bases.

Source: 'Women in Antarctica', URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/women-antarctica, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 22-Jul-2014

Link: http://www.southpolestation.com/trivia/igy2/welch/jones.html