Homeward Bound: Empowering Women in Science and Leadership

By Georgia Ward-Fear

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I 'walk the walk' for the environment and I also love breaking stereotypes

As a wildlife biologist, I see firsthand the rapid (unprecedented) environmental change happening on our planet. I work to understand and combat it every day.

As a female scientist, I see firsthand the gender inequality inherent in my industry. Women enter science globally in significant numbers yet we are dramatically underrepresented in executive, decision-making roles. More broadly, women are overrepresented in the world's poor and are therefore disproportionately more likely to experience the effects of climate change and other environmental issues.

How can we address these two issues? What if achieving gender balance at the leadership table was one of the most effective ways to influence environmental sustainability and reduce human impact? Research suggests that it could be!

I strongly believe that increasing the capacity of female scientists to engage at the environmental leadership table could alter our planet's future. I also want girls to grow up in a world knowing they can work with reptiles, get their clothes dirty, drive ATVs, be passionate, loud and assertive AND be just as likely to direct federal environmental policy as their male counterparts.

The Homeward Bound program aims to build leadership capacity for passionate women in STEM; this year I have been selected for this program!

I can’t do it alone - I need your help to participate

What is Homeward Bound?

Homeward Bound is a groundbreaking global leadership initiative to heighten the influence and impact of passionate women in science and to address global environmental change.

The vision, over the next decade, is to equip a 1000-strong global collaboration of women with a science background to network, lead, influence and contribute to policy and decision-making as it informs the future of our planet. This 12-month program develops leadership, communication, visibility and strategic capabilities. The program finishes with a three week intensive all-female leadership expedition to Antarctica - the locale currently experiencing the most severe human-induced change.

For more information about the program, visit the Homeward Bound website.

About me

I'm a passionate conservation ecologist and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Sydney. I work to identify innovative solutions that mitigate the impacts of invasive species, rethink ecological frameworks, assess the sustainability of wildlife exploitation in a changing world and engage with local communities in education initiatives. I work closely with a suite of NGOs, conservation organisations and the government as a key researcher in large-scale projects; I also work with indigenous communities across northern Australia to collaboratively develop and implement conservation programs on their homelands. My job is my calling and I love it. I have amazing mentors, nearly all of whom are male, and it got me thinking...generations of aspiring female ecologists have few female ecologists in senior or executive roles to envision themselves as; mentors to help them push past many of the barriers women face in the Sciences. Could I become one of these mentors?

Why am I involved?

Climate instability is changing native ecosystems in myriad ways; species will be lost and systems will be less resilient to invasion. I believe we can and we must curb our future, not just for you and I, but for every other living species who share this planet with us.

To achieve this we need a global collaboration of knowledgeable, passionate and empowered people; I intend to be one of them. Furthermore, women need equal representation at the leadership table. I am thrilled and privileged to be selected for the Homeward Bound initiative this year, as one of the 80 women worldwide. I am so excited to work with this group of amazing women, to learn, share and plan. I am daunted by the prospect of witnessing climate effects on Antarctica first hand but will turn this experience into motivation for action.

What I want to achieve most out of Homeward Bound:

To inspire young women into science.

To widen my network and environmental influence and do the same for other people.

To be inspired by other amazing women in science.

To improve gender equality and diversity.

Be a part of my journey

Our leadership training and strategising is underway, and our momentum is increasing - we are already so productive. Although much of the program investment per person is subsidised or supported by the likes of Dattner Grant leadership experts; Human Synergistics; The Australian Antarctic Division; ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (UniQLD); and the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (UniTAS); each participant is still required to cover approximately AUD$25,000 of costs themselves to cover both the leadership training and aspects of the female expedition to Antarctica.

Please help me participate in this global collaborative movement, 1000 women strong, to realise our vision for a sustainable future. By supporting me you are also supporting the entire movement.

All contributions, no matter how small, are greatly appreciated! If you can't donate, can you help me with sponsorship or other opportunities?

Upon my return

My Homeward Bound journey is just beginning. When I arrive home I will:

  • Implement the strategies and leadership through my research and my professional network.
  • Build my new found knowledge and climate science into future projects and campaigns.
  • Pass on the learnings through talks and presentations to mentor girls and women in science.
  • Create content for remote-school programs.
  • Empower more women to join Homeward Bound and mentor those joining future expeditions.
  • Play an active role in the Homeward Bound network.
  • Lead the charge for women in science and policy.

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Team Members

Georgia Ward-Fear

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