On 31 December, a ship departs for Antarctica, one of the of the most ecologically sensitive places on Earth. There, the signs of climate change are visible and real, the perfect living laboratory for the 80-plus women scientists and engineers who are aboard.
An Australian initiative called Homeward Bound, the three-year-old groundbreaking program focuses on leadership development, networking and media relations with an aim to provide women in STEM fields with tools to enhance their influence. The expedition consists of workshops around leadership, climate change and climate policy, and visits to different research stations in Antarctica. It is the finale of a year-long competitive leadership program for leading women in their environmental fields – Ramboll Principal Consultant in Canada Carol Aziz was selected as a participant last year.
Carol Aziz will travel with Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, who was credited with delivering the historic Paris Agreement on climate change and will serve as a program facilitator. Ocean advocate Sylvia Earle and famed primatologist Jane Goodall are also affiliated with the program.
Networking with other female scientists and engineers from around the world has been one of the most valuable elements of the program, Carol Aziz says. “There are some really well-connected and inspiring people in the group and there have been a number of women who are pioneers in their fields,” she says.