I am Justine. I am a mum. I am a scientist. I am a post-graduate student. I run a small business. I am Tasmanian. And I am a participant on the next Homeward Bound journey to Antarctica!
Homeward Bound is a program that takes women with a science background on a once-in-a-lifetime journey, with an aim to enhance their leadership and strategic skills to enable them to influence a positive change on our planet. The program takes place over approximately 12 months through online communications and activities, and culminates in an intensive three-week trip to Antarctica in February 2018. Homeward Bound was launched in 2016 and aims to give 1,000 women this opportunity over the next ten years.
Globally, women are under-represented in leadership roles. This is not a new problem, but the pace of change to resolve this has been incredibly slow. This is particularly the case in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM). The lack of women in leadership roles is not only a significant under-utilisation of knowledge, experience, talent and world perspectives; it is also an issue of equity. So let’s fight for a change! The current Homeward Bound cohort consists of 80 women from around the world fighting for this change and I am proud to say that I am one of them!
I still have to pinch myself when I say that. I closely followed the inaugural voyage organised by Homeward Bound, which took place in December 2016, and looked on wishing I could do something so brave, challenging and valuable. Applying to be one of the next participants should have been a no-brainer decision, right? Wrong! I only applied for Homeward Bound on the evening the applications were due, because prior to that I had convinced myself I didn’t stand a chance, and I was already too busy.
However, at the last minute, I threw my hat into the ring because, what if? What if I could be a part of this group of like-minded women who want to take on global challenges together? Obviously, I am so glad I didn’t let my self-doubt get in the way because a week later I received the news that I had made the team. I was thrilled! Woohoo!
Some months on and I am still excited – but also scared! Eek! I feel like I will be a little out of my depth on the ship with a large bunch of super-intelligent women. I am a country girl complete with a bogan accent – not your average scientists. But, I do love science and I will shout it from the rooftops. All the better if those rooftops are in Antarctica with a bunch of other women with the same passions. I am really excited to meet the other participants, to feel motivated and inspired by them, and to brainstorm ideas together.
I was not wrong about being too busy to fit this into my already overloaded schedule, but some things are worth being busy for. I have three young daughters and I want to show them that they can make a positive change in this world. It only takes one person, one idea, one dream, one step to create the ripple.
I am currently doing my Masters Degree in Antarctic and Marine Science at the University of Tasmania, while my husband is doing an engineering degree – we have a crazy life at times – and I am an experienced science educator teaching science to kindergarten children through to tertiary students, through engaging and practical activities. Previously I have worked as a science technician in the food, water, power generation and tertiary education industries.
We all have so much potential – we just need to learn how to recognise it and put it to good use. I hope that on board the ship in Antarctica I will tap further into my potential and learn what to do with it.
Homeward Bound really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I plan on grabbing it with both hands. I truly believe that if we all looked after our planet like we look after our children, our global future would be looking much brighter.
How you can help
The cost for each participant on the Homeward Bound journey is quite significant, at close to $25,000 AUD. Justine has teamed up with Tasmania’s only other participant, Karen Alexander, and together they are Team Tassie, raising not only the funds they require, but awareness for this incredible program to advance women in science.
For those who are able to help them realise this dream, they have a crowdfunding page https://www.gofundme.com/team-tassie-homeward-bound – no donation goes unrewarded.
You can also find them on Facebook if you would like to follow their journey: www.facebook.com/TeamTassieHB
About Homeward Bound
Mother Nature needs her daughters
Homeward Bound is a ground-breaking leadership, strategic and science initiative and outreach for women, set against the backdrop of Antarctica.
The initiative, turned global movement, aims to heighten the influence and impact of women with a science background in order to influence future policy and decision making as it shapes our planet.
Launching in 2016, Homeward Bound gathered the first 76 of a targeted 1,000 women from around the world, all with critical science backgrounds, to undertake a year-long state-of-the-art program to develop their leadership and strategic capabilities, using science to build conviction around the importance of their voices. The inaugural program culminated in the largest-ever female expedition to Antarctica, in December 2016, with a focus on the leadership of women and the state of the world.
The project was the idea of Fabian Dattner (leadership activist and partner at Dattner Grant) and Jess Melbourne Thomas (Antarctic Marine Ecological Modeler). The two collaborated for six months to gain the support of significant scientific bodies, and women of influence. In November 2015 the project went viral globally, and by mid-2015 the inaugural program was fully subscribed. The women selected for the program are from around the world and include: astronomers, engineers, physicists, science communicators, Antarctic and Arctic specialists, doctors and social scientists.
The 12-month virtual leadership program includes:
- Time at sea for approximately 3 weeks, led by Greg Mortimer OAM (2016 and 2018), setting sail from Ushuaia in Argentina
- Twelve days of state of the art leadership and strategic planning training delivered by Kit Jackson, Fabian Dattner and other experts in their fields
- Six days of a cutting edge science education program incorporating the most up to date and relevant research about the state and functioning of our planet delivered by leading Australian academics.
- Globally, women are underrepresented in leadership positions and change has been incredibly slow, despite increasing dialogue and process/systems changes.
- Women are emerging from college degrees as significant percentages of graduates and they take up a significant percentage of our workforce. However, they are in the profound minority globally when it comes to executive decision making roles.
- By giving these women the leadership and strategic skills, a sound understanding of the science, and a strong purposefully developed network they will be able to impact policy and decisions towards a sustainable future.
Homeward Bound website: https://homewardboundprojects.com.au