Let's change the world with women in science!

By Veronique Florec

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"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, either way, you are right"

Henry Ford

We need more female leaders in science

Women are underrepresented in leadership positions in Science and Technology (see chart), as well as many other fields. At the highest levels, women represent only 20% of staff working in STEMM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine). Improving gender equality and diversity in Science will let women position themselves better to reach their full potential, and this will positively impact the scientific performance and productivity of our country and the world.

Gender-balanced teams have been shown to be more effective, have better engagement and higher performance.

Gender distribution of student completions and staff working in STEMM fields. Source: Higher Education Research Data, 2014

We can change this

By developing our leadership skills and getting together, we can change the gender disparity in leadership positions and help create a more sustainable future for all of us! Homeward Bound is doing just that: creating a network of 1000 women and providing them with the leadership skills they need. This global initiative is looking to empower female leaders in science so that they can increase their influence in policy and decision making as it shapes the future of our planet.

It's about leadership

Have you ever had someone believing in you more than you did yourself? I hope you have! I did, and it changed my life. Encouragement, trust and inspiration: this is what we need to create a more sustainable world. It is incredible the courage and strength that we can find in ourselves when someone gives us a word of encouragement, a sign of deep trust, when we are moved by inspiration.

For me leadership is about finding the best in every person and making that shine through by supporting, encouraging and inspiring others to give the best of themselves. In life, it sometimes feel like we move around with a pair of very opaque glasses, that doesn't let us see others for who they truly are and brings to our minds the shadow of past experiences (our conditioning). Leadership is about choosing to let go of that conditioning, to "clean our glasses" so that we can see ourselves and others more clearly.

Homeward Bound is supporting women across the globe to improve their clarity, confidence, shared vision and strategic capability. This will enhance our opportunities to take up leadership roles and offer encouragement, trust and inspiration to others so that we can all proactively contribute to a sustainable world by giving the best that is in ourselves.

What we're doing in the program

For 12 months we are working with the organisers, coaches and other participants, first to discover our leadership style and identify areas for improvement. In this process, we will be learning a lot from each other, developing our collaboration skills and doing things we never did before (getting ourselves out of our comfort zones as much as we can).

The program concludes with a 3 week intensive leadership course in one of the most remote places of our planet, where the adverse impacts of climate change can be seen firsthand: Antarctica. We'll be in a ship for 21 days, with no telephone connection, no internet and away from any large human habitation, the perfect environment for reflective thinking, self-inspection and learning new skills! During those 21 days, we will challenge ourselves, explore the different aspects of leadership and discover a unique and iconic part of our planet.

Why do we need your help?

The total cost per person to participate in Homeward Bound is $40,000 Australian dollars, of which $15,000 is covered by in-kind contributions, partners and sponsors of the program. So each participant needs to raise AU$25,000 to be part of this journey. With your help, this dream will come true and we'll have more people on the planet with the skills to make a positive difference and inspire others to do the same. Your contribution is helping create a network of leaders that believe we can change the course of our planet.

About myself

I am a 34-year-old post-doctoral researcher in environmental and resource economics at the University of Western Australia. My research focuses on improving the management of our natural environment through multidisciplinary projects that combine social, environmental and economic information. I'm currently leading a project that focuses on applying economic analysis to the management of natural hazards to help decision makers get better value for money from public investments in hazard mitigation. My goal is to use the leadership skills that I'll learn in Homeward Bound to shift the mindset towards more prevention rather than more "cure" in the management of natural hazards.

In my spare time I do a lot of yoga (including meditation and breathing exercises) and I have just completed a yoga-teacher-training program. Yoga helps me be more present with myself and with others and has created a lot of benefits in my life, so I also want to integrate what I have learned from yoga into my leadership.

I was born in Colombia (South America) in a French family, so I am also French. I lived in Colombia until I was 16, then I went to uni in France and worked there for some years. I came to Australia to travel and fell in love with the country and its people (and also with a German that loved this place). I have now been in Australia for 9 years and call this beautiful country "home."

Thank you for your support and your interest in this project. Your contribution is helping us take the steps to build a more equitable and sustainable future for all of us. Any contribution, no matter the size, is received with immense gratitude.

(Donations handled and distributed by The University of Western Australia

on behalf of Veronique Florec)

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Team Members

Veronique Florec