WA academics visit Antarctica as part of Homeward Bound

WA academics visit Antarctica as part of Homeward Bound

CURTIN University researchers Amanda Davies and Samantha Hall were among the first women to participate in the inaugural Homeward Bound Antarctic expedition.

The pair witnessed the effects of climate change up close as part of the women-in-science leadership expedition, joining astronomers, engineers, physicists, Antarctic and Arctic specialists, doctors and social scientists in the biggest-ever female expedition to Antarctica.

The three-week long expedition of 76 women helped to develop their leadership capacity and discuss effective ways to fight for the future of the planet.

Dr Davies, a geographer and social demographer and Dr Hall from the Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute departed for Antarctica from Ushuaia in Argentina on December 2.

Dr Davies said the Australian-led expedition was designed to both promote women in science and highlight the impact of climate change on the planet.

“Despite major advancements in gender equity, women still only make up 28 per cent of the world’s science researchers and occupy less than 10 per cent of senior leadership positions,” Dr Davies said.

“As we face the pressing challenges presented by climate change, we need to find ways to ensure we use all the talent we have.

“We need to ensure that we have diversity at the leadership table.”

Dr Davies said she saw for herself the impacts f climate change, with colonies of penguins moving further towards the South Pole each year.

“While some species of penguins have been able to adapt to the warming climate, this is not an option for all species,” she said.

Dr Davies visited the USA’s Palmer Research Station and discussed the results of their nearly three decades of monitoring of the Antarctic environment.

“The impact of global warming is very real and plain to see − in an environment like that it is hard to ignore that climate change is a massive problem,” she said.

Homeward Bound, conceived by leadership activist Fabien Dattner and Antarctic marine ecological modeller Jess Melbourne Thomas, is a leadership, strategic and science initiative for women that has turned into a global movement.

It aims to heighten the influence and impact of women with a science background on policy and decision-making which affects the planet.

The program has gained global media attention and was included in Fortune’s list of things women could celebrate in 2016.

Applications for the next Homeward Bound program, to depart in 2018, open on January17.