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    So, out of curiosity, what’s the age/sex/nationality breakdown of the people who work on the ice? I’m an early 20s American male and interested in working down there, and am wondering what the ‘average’ ice worker is like?


    30 years ago when most of the US Antarctic population was military, the typical person was an early 20’s American male. Now the population is much more diverse, featuring married couples, grandparents, and other folks in their 60s and older–many of these people repeating their contracts year after year. Of course the physical exam requirements have gotten a bit stiffer, but that hasn’t stopped the gradual “aging” of the average population.

    The old military joke the first time I went to the ice was that there was a “woman behind every tree.” Nowadays the sexual balance isn’t 50-50, but there are enough females around to make the ratio seem almost normal.

    As for the international aspect, since the 1950’s there always have been foreign researchers working at the various stations. As science has gotten bigger and more expensive, there are more international research collaborations on the ice every year. And recently the US support contractor has expanded their hiring of non-US-citizens for hard-to-fill positions.

    The other national programs have been undergoing similar evolutions.

    Since you’re a human you’ll fit right in.


    According to the 10/31 edition the Antarctic Sun, the stats for RPSC employees at that time were:

    Population: McMurdo 661, South Pole 165, Palmer 28, Ships 23
    65% men, 35% women
    Youngest: 19
    Oldest: 70
    Average age: 37
    White: 745
    Hispanic: 24
    Asian/Pacific Islander: 8
    Black: 5
    American Indian: 5
    Other/Not Indicated: 15

    Top states of residence were Colorado (147), Washington (79) and Alaska (72), but there was at least one person from every state. Other employees came from New Zealand (2), Canada (2), Puerto Rico (2) and Australia (1).

    Since that time the population has gone up; McMurdo was over 1000 last week and the Pole was over 200. The science groups appear to come closer to a 50/50 mix of men and women, so the overall gender mix is probably better than the RPSC stats indicate (i.e., more women are grad student biologists than heavy equipment operators, which skews the RPSC numbers).

    What this doesn’t tell you, of course, is marital status and sexual orientation. My guess is that maybe 30% are married — whether or not their spouses are here — and about 10% are gay or lesbian, roughly the same as the US population as a whole. To speculate a bit more, I’d say there’s more lesbians here than elsewhere on average, and maybe fewer gays, although it’s hard to say for sure.

    One thing is for sure… this is the most educated continient in the world. We have dishwashers with master’s degrees.


    Thanks for the info! Sounds like a pretty cool place to be, no pun intended of course 😀

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