Preparation for all-female Antarctic expedition underway

Monday, 18 July, 2016

Seventy-seven women from around the world have been selected to take part in Homeward Bound, said to be the world’s largest all-female expedition to Antarctica.

Organised as part of the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE), Homeward Bound is the brainchild of Australian leadership activist Fabian Dattner and Dr Jess Melbourne-Thomas from Australian Antarctic Division. It will feature participants from a range of scientific backgrounds — including polar scientists, atmospheric scientists, penguin experts, university lecturers, engineers, research fellows, writers, biologists and senior science teachers — all looking to bring global awareness to the cost of low representation of women in leadership and their potential contribution to policy and decision-making.

“There is extraordinary paucity of women in leadership positions in the area of science,” said Dattner. “It is a fact generally that women are underrepresented globally in leadership positions and change has been incredibly slow in recent decades. Women leaders could be making a tangible difference in contributing to a more sustainable world; however, women are such a profound minority in decision-making roles, they’re simply left out of opportunities to help shape our future in all arenas.”

In order to combat this, Dattner created Homeward Bound as the first step in a 10-year outreach initiative that promotes women with a science background into positions of leadership affecting policy around the sustainability of our planet. The Antarctic voyage has selected female leaders in science from around the world, including Australia, Germany, the UK, the US, New Zealand and South Africa.

At sea for 20 days, participants will engage with leadership and strategy planning experts in their fields as well as cutting-edge science education delivered by leading Australian academics. Antarctica has been chosen as the backdrop for the voyage as regions of the continent are currently showing the fastest responses to climate change seen anywhere on the planet, thus highlighting the importance of grafting solutions from significant scientific discussions.

“There are 12 Homeward Bound projects which have been developed to specifically engage and focus on the collaboration of women, leveraging their expertise and care for the planet,” said Dattner.

The Homeward Bound expedition will set sail from Ushuaia, Argentina, on 2 December and return on 21 December. There will be a film crew on board to make a documentary of the voyage, along with professional photographers.

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