Female Scientists Journey to Antarctica and into Leadership

By Hannah Laeverenz-Schlogelhofer

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Check out the comments for my Antarctic Reflections from what was an incredible journey...

What is Homeward Bound?

Homeward Bound is a ground-breaking, global leadership, strategic and science initiative for women, set against the backdrop of Antarctica. It aims to create a global network of 1000 women over 10 years to collaborate, promote and support each other, working to influence policy and decision making as it affects our precious planet.

Who am I?

I am a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, investigating the world of single cell organisms. These tiny life forms are crucial components of biogeochemical cycles and are where much of the biodiversity that underpins life is found.

I feel incredibly honoured and excited to have been selected for the 2018 Homeward Bound expedition. I want to use my scientific skills, understanding and intellect to address concerns about what is happening to our planet, and the interactions between ecosystems and human societies that reside here. Being part of this global network will be extremely valuable as I take the next steps in my career. I am fascinated by the amazing diversity of life and am prepared to work hard to protect it.

Why Women?

Women are underrepresented in leadership positions and change has been incredibly slow. When women emerge from higher education, they make up a significant percentage of our graduates and workforce. However, they are in the profound minority globally when it comes to executive decision making roles.

We believe that when women have leadership and strategic skills, a sound understanding of science and a strong purposefully developed network they will be able have a significant impact.

Invest in Female Leaders with a Background in Science

A team of international experts in leadership, science, strategy and visibility will be donating their time and expertise to deliver the year-long programme. It will culminate in a 22-day expedition to Antarctica, launching from Ushuaia, Argentina, on 18th February 2018.

The total value of the programme exceeds US$26,000 per person. Each participant needs to contribute US$16,000 as well as cover additional costs (e.g. flights, Antarctic clothing, travel insurance). I am extremely grateful for the generous support I have received from the Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability and NanoDTC.

So I need to raise a total of US$16,000 (about £13,000), which will enable me to participate in this ground-breaking initiative. Please consider making a donation - every contribution is hugely welcome!

Why Antarctica?

Regions of Antarctica are currently showing some of the fastest responses to climate change seen anywhere on the planet. The study of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean provides critical insights into global-scale change, and the influence of human activities on the environment.

Antarctica is iconic as a wild, beautiful and unique environment that has captured the imagination of many leaders in the past. By taking this journey together we expect the experience will create strong bonds, inspire action and lead to extraordinary collaborations.

Thank You!

I really appreciate every donation! I will share updates and photos of my experiences with Homeward Bound - as we embark on a leadership development programme, prepare for an expedition and what happens when a boat full of women go to Antarctica.

Printed photo of Antarctica

Once you have donated you will be given a link to a google form. If you complete this form, after my return from Antarctica I will send you a postcard with a printed photo taken during our expedition as a thank you for your generous support.

Please consider supporting my participation in Homeward Bound and sharing my campaign. Visit www.homewardboundprojects.com.au for more information, follow me on social media or check out the comments section for updates and get in touch if you have any questions.

Thank you!

Hannah ox

Update: 18th February 2018


Thank you to all who have supported me in this endeavor and have helped me get this far! It is wonderful to have you behind me on this journey.

The last few days in Ushuaia have been wonderful - the warmth, support, openness, care and love in the room is something amazing. I am so excited about the next few weeks together with this incredible group.

This afternoon it will be time for us to board a ship and leave the 'end of the world' behind us, to venture south across the Drakes Passage and to Antarctica. I wanted to upload some photos from Ushuaia but the internet is too slow... so check out Homeward Bound on social media for some great photos of the last few days.

From today I will be without internet connection. To become a virutal participant in our journey and follow our progress check out the Homeward Bound blog and social media pages:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/homewardboundprojects/

Twitter: @homewardbound16

Instagram: @homewardboundprojects

Website: https://homewardboundprojects.com.au/

Connecting Waves: An Invitation to Dance


Dance with us!

An invitation to contribute to a global dance film collaboration.

While we are away on our Antarctic voyage, Cambridge Contemporary Dance invites you to take part in a dance film collaboration inspired by Homeward Bound's growing global community of female scientists, working together for the sustainability of our planet.

How to get involved? (no dance experience necessary!)

STEP 1: Watch the video and learn the movement sequence.

STEP 2: Choose a location and film yourself doing the dance. Be creative with it. You can do it on your own or in a group with friends/family/colleagues. You can film it close up or far away. But please film it landscape (not portrait).

STEP 3: Send us your video by emailing it to cambridgecontemporarydance@gmail.com. Let us know the location (what country?) and how you want to appear in the credits.

DEADLINE: 11th March (when the Homeward Bound journey to Antarctica returns)

STEP 4: We will make a film with contributions from all around the world including footage filmed during the Homeward Bound expedition to Antarctica.

Look out for the final video in Spring 2018.

Sending you lots of love from Ushuaia.

Hannah ox

UPDATE: January 21st 2018


A huge thank you to everyone who has supported me in this incredible journey so far! On the 13th February I will be starting my journey south and boarding a plane to Buenos Aires.

It has been a busy few months so I wanted to update you all with what has been going on.

Getting ready for the cold...

After returning from the Christmas break it was very exciting to recieve a package filled with donated gear from Kathmandu. It is amzing to have their support for this Homeward Bound journey. Putting on the gear really made the upcoming expedition start to feel more real

An Evening of Empowering Women

Back in October, together with Catherine Jones and Maddie Brasier (two other Homeward Bound participants), we held 'An Evening of Empowering Women' at Gonville and Caius college. It was a wonderful evening of inspiration with fantastic speakers sharing their stories, advice and perspectives on leadership. A special highlight for me was finding out that one of our speakers, the photographer Amelia Troubridge, is also a Blackheath High School Alumnus!

Here you can find a great video capturing the highlights from the evening. And here you can find a beautifully written synopsis.

Making Waves

As a member of Cambridge Contemporary Dance, our latest project has been creating a piece to explore ideas around leadership and collaboration, taking inspiration from the imagery, physicality and sounds of Antarctica.

On a bright, chilly afternoon in December we performed 'Making Waves' in locations around Cambridge... video coming soon! In the meantime here are some photos from the day

Blackheath High School - International Day of the Girl

On International Day of the Girl I returned to my old school, Blackheath High School, to give two assemblies and I ran a workshop with Year 1s about polar exploration and how I am preparaing for my upcoming Antarctica expedition. I loved their enthusiasm and all the questions!

I also ran an image competition and I had a fantastic time looking through the brilliant entries and learning about how they see nature and what nature means to them. I was so impressed with the amount of thought and creativity.

It's been a wonderful experience to share my journey with my old school and I look forward to returning to talk to them when I am back from Antarctica.

BP-Clare Hall Inclusive Leadership Symposium

It was a pleasure to be invited to participate in the BP-Clare Hall Inclusive Leadership Symposium. It is great to see that the University and BP are engaging in the development of ideas for transformative actions that can be implemented to improve the inclusivity of workplace culture. I found it particularly encouraging how the meeting was run, with small group brainstorming and time for reflection, in order to ensure everyone was able to get their ideas across.

Becoming part of Homeward Bound has been an incredible experience so far. It has pushed me far beyond my comfort zone and continues to do so. Can't quite express the anticipation and excitement for the next stage of this adventure.

A huge thank you for your support!

Hannah ox

UPDATE: October 7th 2017

Hello there!

Many thanks for your support in my participation with Homeward Bound, which has already been an incredibly enriching, challenging and inspiring experience.

I wanted to share with you some of what has been happening in my Homeward Bound journey over the summer as we get closer to our departure south.

Homeward Bound Cambridge

Over the last few months, in the build up to the 2018 Homeward Bound expedition to Antarctica, it has been wonderful to share this journey and connect with two other Homeward Bound participants in the Cambridge area, Cathy Sorbara and Maddie Braiser.

Together, we have been talking with local media about all things Homeward Bound, women in science and leadership and our anticipation for the upcoming expedition to Antarctica. If you fancy a read - you can check out an article about us featured in Cambridge News. Or, if you fancy a listen - we were interviewed for Cambridge 105's radio show 21st Century Women in September. It was exciting (if a little nervewracking) to be in a radio recording studio for the first time! The podcast is now on their website (our section starts about 15mins into the programme).

Also - Homeward Bound Cambridge now have a Facebook page, @HBCambridge, where you can follow our progress.

An Evening of Empowering Women

On Friday 13th October we will have our fundraising/networking event at Gonville and Caius College, Stephen Hawking Building. We have an exciting line-up of speakers for what should be an inspiring evening of talks and discussion. With food, wine and the finale of our auction. Come join us if you are in the area! For more information and tickets check out our website: empoweringwomenuk.wordpress.com.

Auction is Live on Facebook!

As part of our fundraising, Cathy, Maddie and I have put together an online auction, which includes Hotel Chocolat and wine hampers, orginal artwork, signed books, cinema tickets, Cambridge Satchels and more… It is now live on our Facebook page. Take a look and see if there is something that takes your fancy. And please share with others who might be interested in any of the items.

The bidding will continue all week online and during our event ‘An Evening of Empowering Women’, closing at 8pm Friday 13th October.

Not on Facebook? You can still bid for items by contacting us through our website with the item, amount (in GBP) and your name. We will then add the bid to Facebook on your behalf. But, beware – this may have a time lag.

Happy bidding!

UPDATE: July 11th 2017

Fundraising at Blackheath High

Blackheath High (my old school) had a fantastic muftiday fundraising for my Homeward Bound expedition to Antarctica. It was so lovely to be back for an assembly, to share some science and to talk about this incredible programme for women scientists. I had a great response from the girls - I loved their enthusiasm and the many questions they had. The school is also going to be screening 'Happy Feet' at a film-night to raise even more funds. I am so grateful for their support and I am excited to find out how much they have raised!


It has been great to see my Homeward Bound story featured on chuffed.org and in the GDST Alumnae ezine! I am gradually adjusting to becoming more 'visible'. With Homeward Bound we are exploring visibility in three contexts: personal, public/professional and collective visibility.

An Evening of Empowering Women

Cathy Sorbara, Maddie Braiser and I are making progress with plans for our event: 'An Evening of Empowering Women' on Friday 13th October at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

The evening will involve talks from inspiring women about their journeys, an open discussion on the challenges facing women leaders and a talk about Homeward Bound's vision for a collaborative network of women working for a sustainable future. The evening will also include a silent auction and a tribute to the first voyagers to Antarctica, as well as being an incredible networking opportunity for current and aspiring leaders.

We are in the process of inviting speakers and contacting potential sponsors - so let me know if you have any suggestions. We have also created a website!

UPDATE: June 10th 2017

Exciting news… I have reached 35% of my fundraising goal!

Your support has been so encouraging! It has reinforced my determination to make the most of this opportunity and to find ways to share the experience and its outcomes as widely as possible.

Here is an update about what we have been up to…

Over the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to meet some of the wonderful Homeward Bound women – both online and in person! These meetings have given me a glimpse of the energy, intelligence and enthusiasm that exists in this team of women. Although they started as strangers, the connection to them is almost immediate and even though our backgrounds are different there is a sense of a true underlying commonality and drive.

Here are 6 out of the 8 UK based Homeward Bound participants after an evening of excited discussion in London. (Photo credit: Sandra)

Every month the Homeward Bound 2018 team gets together online. The latest international call was themed around a discussion about creating opportunities for effective communication and the idea of conversational spaces. This is about how we need a balance of safety and tension in conversations in order to allow a pool of shared meaning to emerge. The importance of critical friends, who are able to hold a mirror up to each other in order to effectively reflect on our thoughts and actions, was also discussed.

Some of the faces from the last Homeward Bound call

I had a lovely evening with Deborah, Maddie and Catherine in Gonville and Caius, my Cambridge College. We have started planning a fundraising event that will take place in Caius in October. We envisage this to be an evening of discussion about women in leadership and a networking opportunity for current and aspiring leaders to share stories and support one another… Watch this space for more details to come.

Homeward Bound women in Caius. Left to Right: Deborah (HB2016), Maddie, Catherine and me (HB2018). (Photo credit: Deborah)

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Team Members

Hannah Laeverenz-Schlogelhofer