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Scientific endeavour brings women in from the cold

18 July 2018

Women in leadership and a journey to Antarctica don’t seem to come together naturally. But in Homeward Bound, it’s the whole reason for existing. This is an Australian born initiative (literally dreamt into reality by Fabian Dattner, well known social entrepreneur and leadership expert) with some 33 nations now involved.

Ambitious? Yes. Achievable? Certainly.

Whether it is climate change, plastics pollution, species degradation or gender inequity in leadership, the issues facing our world today cannot be effectively addressed with everyone’s interests in mind when only half the population is represented in the decision-making process.

Women make up 45% of the global workforce, own 7% of the world’s assets, and hold, on average 16% of executive decision making roles: There are 24 female CEOs listed in the Fortune 500, which is under 5%. We know the data and the research that underpins it. It is now time to take defined action.

Homeward Bound, a small but important contributor to change, is a groundbreaking leadership, strategic and science initiative for women with a science background that aims to heighten their influence and impact in order to influence policy and decision making as it shapes our planet.

Homeward Bound launched in 2016 and has since turned into a global initiative. It is uniting 1000 women with a science background, over 10 years, from around the world (it is close to having reached 360 women already). In doing so, Homeward Bound will bring global awareness to the cost of low representation of women in leadership and their glaring absence from decision-making on issues that affect the state of our planet. (Below: The 2017 cohort in Antarctica.)

Homeward Bound 2017 scientists in Antarctica

The undertaking is a year-long state-of-the-art program designed by and for women. It is based on studies that demonstrate women in leadership positions results in a more successful and sustainable decision making processes. Emerging research suggests women are more inclusive, collaborative, have a legacy mindset and are more trusted with assets (like money and people) – all of which are needed in leadership today. Evidence increasingly suggests that these assets will make a difference to the sustainability of our future.

This year, the 3rd cohort of participants comprises 80 women from 28 different countries who will participate in a 3-week expedition to Antarctica departing from Ushuaia, Argentina in December 2018.

One of the selected participants this year is Dr Stephanie Gardner, an Australian marine Biologist whose research focusses on how coral reef ecosystems respond to environmental stress from climate change. Her work has already taken her to tropical parts of the world, from the Great Barrier Reef to Hawaii, French Polynesia and New Caledonia. As a member of the Homeward Bound initiative, Stephanie (below) is in for a polar opposite experience.


“We are now halfway into the program, and Homeward Bound has already exceeded my expectations. I have experienced an incredible sense of family within and amongst the cohorts, drawn together by our common purpose. I have this unbelievable network of women from around the world, who I otherwise would never have had the chance to meet.”

Even though most of the participants will not get the chance to meet in person until the expedition to Antarctica, they are already engaging in coaching and training programs online, centered on leadership, strategy, visibility and communication.

What happens after 10 years? The global network of Homeward Bound will continue to grow and evolve as the challenges facing us today are met and overcome. These women are on a path of change.

If you want to be involved, follow their journey and spread the word. Together we are stronger.

Homeward Bound