Robyn's Homeward Bound 2019 adventure

By Robyn Hall

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Update: If I can reach $10,000 I will do a polar plunge in Antarctica!

For someone who grew up in Queensland with an optimal temperature of 32C, that's saying something!

"I came to view Antarctica as a testing ground that would allow me to understand my potential and my vulnerabilities, an understanding that might, over time, enable me to become a better version of myself."

- Felicity Aston, explorer, climate scientist, and first person

to ski alone across Antarctica unsupported


Women make up less than one-fifth (16%) of Australians qualified in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) (1). They continue to be paid less than their male colleagues (1). Only 17% of STEM professors are female, despite 40% of junior STEM academics being women (2). The number of female scholarly award winners is half, some times a quarter, of what it should be given the number of PhD graduates (3). When given identical resumes, evaluators judged 'John' as being more competent and more hireable than 'Jennifer' and offered 'John' a higher starting salary and more mentorship (4). How can this be and what message does this send to young girls, the next generation of female STEM professionals?

This needs to change.

To that end, I am participating in a ground-breaking global women's leadership, strategy and science initiative, Homeward Bound. This is a year-long leadership program for women with a STEM background, which culminates in a three week intensive voyage to Antarctica. The initiative aims to heighten the influence of women in STEM in order to influence policy and decision making as it shapes our planet. An additional benefit is that women in STEM and in leadership positions are visible, tangible role models and mentors for our future leaders.

Why Antarctica?

Antarctica offers an unparalleled opportunity to observe firsthand the influence of human activities on the environment and provide critical insights into the global-scale change required. Additionally, undertaking intensive leadership training in an environment that is sometimes harsh and unforgiving, and where we are under pressure and away from our regular support networks really tests our ability to maintain good working relationships under stressful situations.


Why Robyn?

I am a scientist, veterinarian, and STEM leader who cares deeply about our environment and gender equity in STEM. I believe we have a key role in protecting and advocating for our planet and what a great way to do that by being part of a global network of talented, ambitious, knowledgeable, and like-minded women? I grew up with two scientist parents and always had a curiosity about the natural world and a thirst for knowledge. This led me to become a veterinarian and then to undertake a PhD studying infectious diseases, specifically viruses. Because of my upbringing I never felt that girls couldn't be scientists or that we couldn't reach leadership positions. However, I now know that so many incredible women don't have this support and are talked out of careers in STEM, or enter these professions only to be overlooked for leadership positions. I believe Homeward Bound can help me develop into a better leader, colleague, mentor, and person, enhancing my ability to take up a leadership role and to proactively contribute to a sustainable world.

Support Robyn

Although I am receiving generous financial and in-kind support from my employer, I need your help to work towards my ultimate goal of $16,000 to fund the Homeward Bound program. Any funds raised over my goal will go towards scholarships for women from developing nations.

More information on the Homeward Bound program can be found at https://homewardboundprojects.com.au/ and more information about me can be found here, here, and here. I am also very interested in hearing from any organisations willing to sponsor me, for example by paying me to present to school students on my experiences surrounding women in STEM.

A couple of other things:

If you choose a perk that requires postage, I will email you to ask for a postal address.

I have chosen the Chuffed platform because they do not take a cut of the funds raised. However, there is a small payment and processing fee associated with donations and you may also consider supporting Chuffed so that they can continue to offer this platform entirely free to fundraisers.


For the scientists:

1) http://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/OCS_Women_in_STEM_datasheet.pdf

2) http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:0u70rBD5HD0J:www.sciencegenderequity.org.au/gender-equity-in-stemm-full-time-equivalent-staff-data/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=au&client=firefox-b-ab

3) http://www.awis.org/?Awards_Recognition,‘Scholars awards go mainly to men’, Nature, 2011, January, 469: 472

4) https://ctl.yale.edu/sites/default/files/basic-page-supplementary-materials-files/science_facultys_subtle_gender_biases_favor_male_students.pdf

5) http://www.hult.edu/blog/benefits-challenges-cultural-diversity-workplace/

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Robyn Hall

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