Featured image above: women in sustainability head to Antarctica
A group of female scientists from Western Australia are preparing to embark on a leadership voyage to Antarctica.
The eight local researchers are among 78 women from around the world taking part in Homeward Bound, a 20-day trip that aims to enhance the influence and impact of women in science, and ensure the sustainability of our planet.
One of the youngest participants, PhD student Sandra Kerbler from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology at UWA, says she is passionate about women in science and the improving gender inequality they experience.
“Only 10 to 15 per cent of top level scientists are women so there’s not very many of us, and it’s become more and more apparent how prevalent that is as I’ve been going through my studies,” she says.
“I find this really discouraging and I want to be able to fix it in some way.”
Among those joining Kerbler on the voyage—including a potentially hairy crossing of the Drake Passage—are Curtin University sustainability researcher Samantha Hall and SciTech Aboriginal education program coordinator Kathleen Patrick.
Hall says she believes women are often more attracted to sustainability.
“I really think that an integral step to bringing the planet back to being healthy and sustainable is that we need more involvement of women’s voices, and we have to make those voices heard,” she says.
“That was really the brief for Homeward Bound, it was ‘how do we get these voices at the leadership table’.”
Hall, who is a co-founder of Simply Carbon, says finding ways to overcome self-doubt and lack of confidence could help translate more women’s ideas into action, particularly in the start-up and innovation space.
Patrick says the most exciting thing about the expedition for her is the opportunity to network with the other women involved.
“I love meeting other people who are doing similar and different things in other parts of the world, sharing knowledge…and also borrowing ideas and tapping into other people’s programs,” she says.
“For me it’s [about] meeting 77 other women who are kicking goals in their respective fields.”
Ms Kerbler says she is looking forward to doing something she had never even dreamed of before.
“Going to the end of the world is definitely a big highlight for me, learning more about the strategy and leadership skills I’ll need to continue on in science and hopefully make myself a bit more competitive when it comes to my scientific career,” she says.
– Michelle Wheeler