Homeward Bound


Homeward Bound


Homeward Bound - Women's Leadership for Our Planet's Future

Homeward Bound is a ground-breaking leadership initiative, set against the backdrop of Antarctica, which aims to heighten the influence and impact of women in making decisions that shape our planet.


Why Women?

Despite making up 45% of the global workforce, women are globally underrepresented in leadership positions. This is despite women comprising 57% of recent college graduates. By providing these women with leadership and strategic skills, a sound understanding of the science, and a strong purposefully developed network, we will enhance their ability to impact policy and decision-making for a sustainable future.

Why Antarctica?

Regions of Antarctica are showing the fastest responses to some of the global sustainability problems we currently face. Antarctica offers an unparalleled opportunity to observe first hand the influence of human activities on the environment and provide critical insights into the global-scale change required. This iconic environment has captured the imagination of leaders in the past and the expedition experience of the Antarctic component of the Homeward Bound program creates strong bonds between participants.

Why Now?

If not now, when? The sustainability of our planet is in crisis and so is the state of leadership in our world. Homeward Bound aims to contribute to both these global issues.

Launched in 2016, the inaugural program culminated in the largest ever female expedition to Antarctica. Homeward Bound has led two cohorts of women through the year-long state-of-the-art program and Antarctic voyage, with a third cohort underway and due to depart for Antarctica on 31 December 2018.

Building a global network of 1000 women in STEMM to influence policy and decision making as it shapes our planet.

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Emma is thrilled to have been selected as one of 94 scientists worldwide, with diverse nationalities, ages and experience to participate in this year-long professional development scheme culminating in a 3-week expedition to Antarctica.

The primary objective Homeward Bound is to, within a decade, equip a 1000-strong global collaboration of women with STEMM (science, technology, engineering, medicine and maths) backgrounds to lead, influence and contribute to policy and decision-making as it informs the future of our planet.

As part of the program, Emma will receive state-of-the-art leadership training and become part of and co-create a deeply trusting, highly skilled, global network of women in science supporting women in leadership anywhere they see is appropriate (to their career and to their contribution). The program enables this through a focus on building trust and safety, sense of self, the ability to give and receive feedback, the skills that underpin peer coaching, increasing women’s strategic visibility and understanding of/connection to science and collaboration (including science communication skills). 

Mother Nature needs her daughters

The program focuses on four core development components: leadership development, strategic capability, visibility and science communication, and science collaboration, and runs over 12 months (Nov 2018 - Dec 2019). The Antarctic voyage component of Homeward Bound (in November 2019) is the nexus of this shared journey.  

This fourth Homeward Bound cohort is the most diverse group yet: #TeamHB4 comprise 95 women from 33 countries who'll be given 11 months of leadership training before spending 21 days in Antarctica together at the end of 2019. 

#TeamBrisbaneHB4 from L-R: Anna Vinkuyzan (Research Manager at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience), Bianca Das (Soil Scientist at the CSIRO), Emma Kennedy and Hana Starobova (PhD student at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience). Fifth Brisbane team member Karen Aitkin (Sugarcane Improvement Team, CSIRO) not pictured.

#TeamBrisbaneHB4 from L-R: Anna Vinkuyzan (Research Manager at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience), Bianca Das (Soil Scientist at the CSIRO), Emma Kennedy and Hana Starobova (PhD student at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience). Fifth Brisbane team member Karen Aitkin (Sugarcane Improvement Team, CSIRO) not pictured.

Teaming Up

Emma is joined by three more University of Queensland researchers. The Institute for Molecular Bioscience’s Dr Anna Vinkhuyzen and Hana Starobova join soon-to-be PhD student Bianca Das from CSIRO, also based on campus, to help raise funds for the trip. 

Co-founder and UQ and ARC Centre for Excellence of Environmental Decisions Research Fellow Dr Justine Shaw said in just a few years, Homeward Bound had prompted changes for the UQ women who had taken part.

“We see women getting promotions or obtaining new roles upon their return, due to their new found voice, negotiating and leadership skills,” she said.

Discrimination? I don’t think there’s a woman in science who hasn’t faced it
— Brisbane Times, October 2018

“We’ve already seen new funded research grants emerge from Homeward Bound. We foster science collaboration and the women learn to develop their own strategy for themselves and their careers, and forge lasting friendships”

“Some find new PhD students, some find new mentors, and some find research partners."

“Our aim is that 1,000 women in STEMM will have undergone a leadership program within ten years.”

The fourth ship sails from Ushuaia, Argentina on 19 November 2019 and will visit several different research stations in Antarctica.

Before then, the participants have a lot of work and fundraising ahead of them.

You can support the #TeamBrisbaneHB4 participants by donating below, and read more about Homeward Bound through this link.