Empowering women in STEM: Kristin's Antarctic leadership journey

By Kristin Raja

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Hello! My name is Kristin Raja, and I’m a commissioned officer in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). I am about to embark on a remarkable leadership journey as one of 95 women from around the world selected for #Team HB4 of the Homeward Bound Leadership Initiative.


Every 24 hours we are dumping 110 million tons of manmade global warming pollution into the atmosphere, causing it to thicken and trap more heat than it naturally would. The scientific community has been telling us for a long time that we must change. Now mother nature is telling us with strengthened hurricanes, rain bombs, sea level rise, ocean acidification, raging wildfires, and intensified droughts causing food shortages, exacerbating water scarcity, and driving refugee crises.

The good news is we have the tools at hand to solve these problems!

Global wind and solar production are growing exponentially while their prices take a nose dive, and auto manufacturers are moving to electric vehicles. At the Paris climate negotiations in Dec 2015, virtually every nation in the world agreed to phase out greenhouse gas pollution to net zero emissions as early in the second half of this century as possible. Corporations, cities, and states are committing to 100% renewable energy, and China and India are both on track to overachieve their Paris commitments.

But there’s a problem...

We need to move faster

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released in Oct 2018, tells us we need to transform the world economy within just a few years in order to limit warming to 1.5°C and avoid the most serious and permanent damage.

With a diversity of voices

Studies have shown that teams are more innovative when they consist of people of different backgrounds and experiences. Climate change will take ALL of us to tackle it – men and women, liberals and conservatives alike.

Globally, there is low representation of women in leadership positions, and especially in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Medicine) fields. However, recent studies have shown that women have a higher tendency to exhibit leadership qualities we need for this transformation, such as integrity, legacy mindset, emotional intelligence, and collaboration.

Kristin and the Homeward Bound Leadership Initiative

Homeward Bound is a ground-breaking leadership initiative that’s building a global network of 1,000 women in STEMM to influence policy and decision making as it shapes our planet. Graduates will be visible, collaborative, networked, and impact the decisions made in many sectors for the greater good.

The program focuses on four main components: leadership development, strategic capability, visibility and science communication, science collaboration. Over 11 months, the course will be delivered via monthly video conference calls and small-group meetings, culminating in a 3-week voyage to Antarctica in November 2019.

Why Antarctica?

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 me?

I have been aware of and concerned about climate change for many years. My first NOAA assignment included a 30-day trip to the Arctic to perform hydrographic survey reconnaissance along the entire north coast of Alaska as the Arctic ice opened up in 2012. It's tempting to lose hope when even the far reaches of the earth show drastic human impact, but I see a path forward out of the climate disaster and into a sustainable future fueled by clean energy. I enjoy the challenge of logistics and bringing people together, and I look forward to enhancing those and other leadership skills to be part of the solution.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead.

Please follow and support my journey

The total program is valued at $31,000 USD per person. Generous sponsors of Homeward Bound have reduced the tuition due from participants to $17,000. Another $3,500 is required to cover travel to Argentina, Antarctic clothing, and travel insurance.

Please follow my climate leadership journey through my newly-created blog BuildingaSustainableFuture.com. Through this journey I hope to inspire others to believe in themselves and step forward to lead. Any contribution you can make toward this goal will be very much appreciated, but also please share this campaign amongst your networks to raise awareness of climate change concerns and the Homeward Bound cause.

Please email me if you're interested in contributing outside this platform. Thanks for your interest and support!

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Team Members

Kristin Raja