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Building female scientific leaders for a better world

23 October 2018

Homeward Bound is an Australian-based initiative launched in 2016. Its aim is to unite and empower across the next 10 years a 1000-strong network of women in STEMM from around the globe to give them the tools they need to make their voices heard in the face of climate change.

The Program is designed to provide the women with skills in leadership, strategic planning, visibility, and in how to best utilise the different forms of media to build their presence on the international scene related to environmental and climate science.

Marine biologist Dr Stephanie Gardner is 1 of 80 women selected into the program this year.  We asked Steph about her fears and ‘can’t waits’ now that her Homeward Bound Antarctic adventure is only 10 weeks or so away.

“I’m in the final month of crowdfunding my adventure having raised $15,555, but there’s still a bit to go to meet my $25,000 goal. My friends and family have made very generous donations, and I’m incredibly grateful to them. I’ve also started looking at what equipment/clothing I need - thermals, socks, gloves, etc. I don’t own a lot of these because I’m always working in tropical locations,” Steph explains.

Steph tells us she’s extremely excited about the recent announcement of the “global superstar” who will be joining the group on the trip.

Christiana Figueres from Costa Rica is an internationally recognised leader on global climate change, and was Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 2010-2016.

“Chritiana brought together national and sub national governments, corporations and activists, financial institutions, NGOs and parliamentarians, to jointly deliver the Paris Agreement of 2015. She’s one of my role models and now I have three weeks in Antarctica on a ship with her,” says Steph.

In terms of fears, the only thing she’s been thinking about and for which she feels unprepared is the Antarctic environment.

“I’ve got a lot of experience working on boats for research expeditions and travelling and working in remote and isolated places with people with a range of backgrounds, so I feel I can draw on those experiences,” says Steph, whose marine biology work is concentrated in the tropics.

“We each have leadership coaches, who have all volunteered their time, and my coach and I have recently been talking about a self-care plan for on board,” Steph continues.

This is something, she believes, that will be extremely important.

“We will be in close quarters for a significant period of time. Eighty women from all around the world with different backgrounds, cultures, personalities and views, with limited ‘self’ time and contact with loved ones in the outside world.

“I am feeling prepared - but there are also so many unknowns. I will just have to cross those as they happen,” Steph says.

Before she departs on 31 December this year, Steph will be staying on-ground in Ushuaia, Argentina for 2.5 days of the program. She will meet everyone then for the first time, and start some of the training, coaching and work that will continue on board.

The Program centres on leadership, strategy, visibility and communication/collaboration.

“We have a couple of hotels assigned, and a big welcome dinner on 28 December. Luckily, I arrive the day before, giving me a bit of time to adjust to the time zone and recover from the long journey,” she finishes.

If you want to help Steph meet her financial target for the Program, you can email her on sgracegardner@gmail.com for a link to her crowdfunding page.

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