Leading with courage

By Allyson O'Brien

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There are 16 weeks until I depart for Antractrica. I6 weeks = 16 parkruns (A weekly, free, timed 5km running event organised at over 300 locations across Australia). I am going to run a parkrun each week until I leave. Join me in my journey on Instragram @allysonob.

Why am I doing this?

There are so many wonderful women around me in science and in my workplace.

Women make up 43% of scientists in Australia.1

But, why do I see so few women in senior roles?

50% of junior scientists are women but only 20% are in senior leadership positions.2

Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound is a ground-breaking leadership program solving this problem. It is for women in science from any discipline or country around the world.

The program focusses on passion for your career and the desire to lead. It is inclusive regardless of career stage, research impact or publications.

I am very excited to be one of the 95 participants of Homeward Bound 2019. The program runs for 12 months and includes a range of collaborative learning experiences to develop personal leadership skills, professional visibility and science communciation. In the final stages of the program we will have an incredibly unique opportunity to strengthen our collaborations and develop a strong network of global leaders during a 3-week voyage in Antarctica.

Why Antractica? It is one of the most extreme environments on our planet, and where the impacts of climate change are clearly visible.

The goal is for 1,000 women to participate in the program and voyage to Antractica over a period of 10 years. 2019 is the fourth group of women on the program. I want to have the courage to lead, create change for the environment, and inspire others to do the same.

Help me get there

My workplace, School of BioSciences, The University of Melbourne, has generously provided support for half of the program fees (total program fees = AUD$25,000).

My goal is to raise $12,500 to cover the remaining cost of the program.

You can find out more about me and my science at www.allysonobrien.com.

Please help me achieve my goals of being a leader in science, education and our community.

Science leader: me teaching undergraduate science (Blue Planet: introduction to the marine environment)

You can either donate to me directly or buy a custom BeCourageous t-shirt at MyClubShop. These t-shirts include womens and mens running/active wear singlet tops, t-shirts and long sleeve tops plus kids t-shirts. See the full range under Apparel. T-shirt orders will take 5-7 working days to print before they are posted.

MyClubShop also sells appliances and technology at discounted prices. A percentage of all purchases made through MyClubShop will help support my fundraising campaign.

Make sure you enter FREEDEV to get free delivery within Australia.

BeCourageous t-shirts womens long sleeve (size 10), mens (large), kids (size 6 & 8)

My pledge

I will donate 10% of the money I raise to the OnTrack program. This is a development program for African Australian Secondary school students (Year 10, 11 and 12) who aspire to participate in athletics and study at university.

I love being involved in OnTrack both as an University academic and an athlete for the Melbourne University Athletics Club. I want to do as much as I can to see that the program continues to grow and contribute towards an inclusive community where both girls and boys can achieve their goals in study, health and their future.

OnTrack program participants 2019 at 'A day as a scientist'


1 Academics in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM). Source: Australia Gender Equity (SAGE), August 2016.

2 50.2% of junior academics are women, 20.6% of senior professors are women. Source: Australia Gender Equity (SAGE), August 2016.

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Team Members

Allyson O'Brien

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