Homeward Bound: Unite Men & Women for a Sustainable STEMM future

By Heidi Pass

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My role in the STEMM industry...

Hi I’m Heidi Pass, a PhD-qualified geologist-geochemist, one of only two women to have achieved the role of Chief Geochemist at a major mining company globally, and the only mining representative in Homeward Bound’s 2019 leadership program culminating in a 3 week expedition to Antarctica.


After 25 years of volunteer and professional work experience in STEMM industries, I’m expanding my career to include a deeply personal vision. As I continue to advance my technical and leadership role, my vision is to also make a global contribution to gender intelligence and pioneer a diverse and inclusive future for all – our women, our men and our planet - by shaping the sustainability of the STEMM industry.

What is Homeward Bound?

Homeward Bound is a journey of a lifetime with a BIG vision.


"It is a vision, an adventure, a collective pursuit to better the world through science, education, communication, collaborative thinking and credible influence."

- Rachael Marshall


At its core, Homeward Bound is a ground breaking leadership initiative that aims to heighten the impact of women in making decisions that shape our planet, our communities, and the companies we work for and collaborate with as STEMM professionals. The program is known for its annual voyage to Antartica, its focus on climate issues and its desire to see women at the leadership table.


Each year up to 100 women are selected globally to participate, creating a network of 1000 women in STEMM from around the world over ten years.


The program requires dedication and commitment to education and training over twelve months covering 4 core pillars:

1) Leadership development,

2) Strategic capability,

3) Visibility and

4) Science communication and collaboration.


As 1 of only 95 participants selected globally for the 2019 program, it’s my goal to use the knowledge, connections and experience I gain to bridge the gap between men and women in STEMM so we can confidently lead together; respecting the unique strengths and capabilities we all bring to the table.


What is Gender Intelligence?

As gender roles continue to be redefined at every level of our culture; it’s more important than ever that we understand each other’s strengths, needs and wishes. Gender intelligence is a way to support the diversity needed to sustain the STEMM industry by discovering practical ways to release our unconscious biases, embrace our differences and create even greater outcomes as united teams.


“We envision a day when gender blind spots become a thing of the past, when gender-intelligent men and women seek out each other’s authentic nature and work and live together in a natural and inviting way.”

“Gender Intelligence” - Barbara Annis


Why is this so important to the future of STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Medicine)?

  1. STEMM careers are critical to our future and the world economy. In fact it’s predicted 75% of jobs in the future will be in STEMM.
  1. Despite making up 45% of the global workforce, less than 26% of researchers and key managers are women, only 17% are CEOs and only 12% hold chair positions, for reporting agencies.
  1. If companies continue to hire and promote women at current rates, it will be between 20-100 years (!!), depending on the level of senority, before we reach gender parity. And women still earn 24% less than men for the same work, even when they have the same abilitites and experience.
  1. This will leave a significant gap in the representation of female leaders in STEMM. Without role models to look up to, it will be even harder to attract and retain women and girls into STEMM industries, leaving an even larger skills shortage that will be difficult to fill.
  1. Research also shows that companies are more prosperous and innovative if they have more than 30% of women at senior levels. To survive in the future, STEMM industries need women at senior levels to ensure they have the required workforce and the sustainability to remain competitive.

Despite this importance, progress towards creating gender diversity has actually stalled

Awareness of gender diversity is at an all time high and many companies are spending time and money on initiatives, yet in some areas, diversity is actually reversing.

Why is this?

  • We don’t yet know what works. Research shows that when it comes to taking action on diversity, there is a lack of evidence of what actually creates results.
  • Our society is hardwired with unconcious biases and assumptions which limit both men and women.
  • A lack of visible female mentors and role models in leadership positions.
  • There isn’t a broad, strong network that unites the movement, making it difficult to focus resources where they will do the most good.

What am I doing about it?

The time to find a way for men and women to unite so we can ensure a sustainable future is now. To meet the future demands of the STEMM industry and ensure a positive legacy for our home planet, we must:

  • Promote STEMM jobs as a viable, interesting and progressive career option for both boys and girls.
  • Increase the visibility of current female role models in STEMM to encourage young girls to consider STEMM as a viable career option.
  • Work harder on truly understanding gender intelligence to continue to create cultural and social change.

Homeward Bound will give me the skills, the voice, the global network and the platform to combine my commitment to gender intelligence, with my current role as a scientist and as a leader within the STEMM industry to find that way.


I’ll leave you with this final quote.

“If she can see it – she can be it.”

image courtesy https://seejane.org/

A study undertaken by The Geena Davis Institute found that STEMM characters on screen were 83.8 % male. No matter how much we tell our youth that boys and girls can do whatever they want, if they’re not seeing it, they won’t believe it. Homeward Bound is my first step to being more visible so the young girls yet to join STEMM and the women already in it know there’s a place for them to be leaders in this incredible industry.


We can't win with just half the team, we are #morepowerfultogether.

You can be part of finding the way forward!

The total value of the Homeward Bound program is AUD $43,000 per person. The Dattner Grant Pty Ltd, partner of the program covers part of those expenses to bring the personal participation cost down to AUD $23,000. Another AUD $5,000 is needed for travel to Argentina (where our voyage begins) and for equipment, insurance and clothing I'll need in Antarctica.

To secure my spot in the group, I’m looking for sponsors to help me raise the AUD$25,000 needed to participate.

By supporting me you’re not only contributing to a more balanced leadership for STEMM, you can get some pretty cool perks too… Check them out on the right hand side.

Thank you for being part of my journey

I am truly grateful.


I would like to acknowledge the amazing support of WomenWithin Western Australia who generously assisted in kick-starting my fundraising campaign. I am proud to belong to this community.

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Heidi Pass

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