[Podcast] Breaking the Ice Ceiling: Dr. Alison Banwell Ep. 38

Breaking the Ice Ceiling: Dr. Alison Banwell Ep. 38
December 7th, 2021

Dr. Alison Banwell is a glacier scientist (aka ‘glaciologist’) who loves glaciers but hates the cold. She is from the UK and is currently a research scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Alison has been on five field expeditions to Antarctica, three of which she led. She feels particularly grateful for since women have only been allowed to do fieldwork with the British program since the 1980s! On this episode, Caroline and Alison discuss her background, experiences in the field and the parallels between gender bias in science and mountaineering.

In December 2021, my partner, Rob Lea, our friend, mountain guide, Jonathon Spitzer, and I will be in Antarctica climbing and skiing the highest peak, Mt. Vinson. As I was researching climate science in Antarctica, I was shocked to learn that women were banned from Antarctic climate research until the 60s in the US and the mid 80s in the U.K. Now, women are playing leading roles in Antarctic polar research, although there are still significant barriers, especially for women of color. These barriers are similar to those faced by women who want to get into ski mountaineering: implicit bias, lack of diversity of sizes in appropriate gear and equipment, and sometimes, outright harassment.

Going to Antarctica is an enormous privilege; I want to give back by communicating the importance of climate science through these women’s research. Because when women lead, we see better climate policies. How we treat women sets the tone for how we treat the environment. I want to see more women getting to the top.

This series features leading climate scientists who are Breaking the Ice Ceiling.

Follow Dr. Alison Banwell on Twitter:


and on Instagram: