This Groundbreaking Leadership Initiative is The Largest Female Expedition to Antarctica

Olivia Burton

This week is International Women’s Day, the perfect time to celebrate the kickass female scientists currently in the Antarctica with Homeward Bound.

Now for those around in the 90’s, you are forgiven to associate the words ‘Homeward Bound’ with the adorable movie about animals on an adventure.

Homeward Bound Projects however is a slightly different adventure. It instead involves female leaders from different science backgrounds and countries, learning and collaborating to help conserve the planet.

Photos © Oli Sansom 2018

Homeward Bound women

‘…Using science to build conviction around the importance of their voices’

homeward bound

The Project

The initiative aims to heighten the influence and impact of women with a science background in order to influence policy and decision-making as it shapes our planet.

Homeward Bound was developed by leadership activist Fabian Dattner, partnering with Antarctic Marine Ecological Modeller Jess Melbourne Thomas and various scientific bodies. The program came together and launched in 2016, starting with 76 females from diverse science backgrounds and countries. The program takes places over 12 months virtually, with a final 3 weeks in the Antarctica at sea. The aim of the program is to develop leadership and strategy skills to encourage and create global collaboration towards a sustainable future.

‘…Using science to build conviction around the importance of their voices’ Fabian Dattner

Homeward Bound women


The participants are females from science backgrounds, capable of influencing positive change on the world with credibility. The previous and current participants are from a range of diverse backgrounds such as; doctors, science communicators, astronomers and marine scientists. The project is also not self-funded, a significant move to encourage individuals from all backgrounds.

On the current voyage is an incredible mix of global leaders including lots of Australians! The Australian participants are a diverse group from Vet Justine Barrett, Research Scientist Anais Pages to Marine Scientist & Model Laura Wells. See the full list here.

Homeward Bound women

Why female?

According to a 2017 BBC article ‘Trailblazing women in science’, a 2014 YouGov survey of almost 3,000 people, found that only 47% of those asked could name a famous woman scientist. Women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths), is an incredibly important topic and one that has previously been downplayed. There are countless females in history that have made significant contributions to science, with no recognition and less opportunity.

Homeward Bound women

Young females should be seeing influential women in science roles. There should also be more female scientists in leadership positions, to create positive change in the world. Females are unrepresented in leadership positions, particularly in science. Programs like Homeward Bound are changing this for the better, with much more to hopefully come.

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.

To see what’s going on daily, follow @homewardboundprojects. According to Instagram, they were learning about effective science communication, plastics in the ocean and global water issues yesterday.

Olivia Burton

Olivia is an eco-writer, producer, science graduate & ocean enthusiast. After moving from London to Sydney, she found her love for the outdoors and recycled textiles, which led her to start writing about science and sustainable fashion. Olivia is really passionate about brands using fashion for good and innovation in the industry. She now splits her time between several not-for-profit organisations in communication roles. Olivia is also a Centre for Sustainability Leadership alumni and sits on the Fashion Revolution committee for Australia & New Zealand.