By Dr Jen Martin (Visibility Faculty – Onboard Sci-Comms Facilitator)
The clouds were sitting low, obscuring the mountains as the one hundred women of Team HB4 finally came together in Ushuaia last night for our welcome dinner. As we gathered, the noise levels rose quickly: laughter and chatter that reflected nerves, anticipation and delight alike. There were dozens of hugs as we finally met in person, after meeting online for the past eleven months. I experienced so many special moments having one-on-one conversations with so many of the women I’d previously only known as smiling faces on our monthly online calls.
The energy in the room was incredible: it’s enormously exciting to know we are set to become the world’s largest all-woman voyage to Antarctica and that we come from more than 30 different countries. This voyage is the culmination of each woman’s commitment to become a member of Homeward Bound – a global organisation dedicated to supporting women in STEMM to become visible, strategic and collaborative leaders. We believe these women are uniquely positioned to proactively contribute to a sustainable future for our planet.
After a warm Homeward Bound welcome from Lead Facilitator Fern, we entered the dining room to the beat of Keb Mo’s Put a Woman in Charge. Each member of HB4 took her place around a table and checked out her bundle of goodies, including an all-important down jacket and beanie. It was a night of storytelling, beginning with Fabian Dattner, CEO and founder of Homeward Bound. We all became deeply immersed in Fabian’s tale of her childhood, her family and her values. She shared her stories of her often very public successes and failures and ended by sharing her dream which led to the creation of Homeward Bound.
Each of the eleven other Faculty members took our turn on stage, sharing our stories of vulnerability, challenges, values and joys. I talked about my journey from being an ecology researcher to the founder and leader of the Science Communication Teaching Program at the University of Melbourne. I shared my experiences of both struggle and fulfilment once I decided the most useful and impactful thing I could do as a scientist was to help other scientists become more effective and engaging communicators. Amidst our Faculty’s diversity of experiences, areas of expertise and years of involvement with Homeward Bound, we are united in purpose. As a Faculty, we are all deeply committed to the vision and purpose of Homeward Bound. I’m honoured to bring my experience in science communication and visibility to this skilled and talented leadership team.
The incredible Homeward Bound 4 Faculty with Co-Founder Fabian Dattner
Around the tables, the sharing and discussions continued and there was a sense of relief. After the months of planning, organising and imagining, we had all finally arrived. We know we’re stronger together and we’re ready to ready to take our place as women in STEMM who want to be part of a change for the greater good.As the night drew to a close, I looked south out the windows and considered Antarctica and the extraordinary voyage that awaits us all. I couldn’t help but notice that the clouds had lifted: I could see the magnificent snow-capped mountains stood together powerful and visible. Just like our Homeward Bound vision of women’s leadership.
Dr Jen Martin has spent many years working as a field ecologist, until she decided the most useful thing she could contribute as a scientist was to teach other scientists how to be effective and engaging communicators. Jen founded, leads and teaches the University of Melbourne’s Science Communication Teaching Program.
Welcome Dinner for Homeward Bound 4 participants in Ushuaia, Argentina