Homeward Bound is a groundbreaking leadership, strategic and science initiative for women, set against the backdrop of Antarctica.

The initiative aims to heighten the influence and impact of women with a science background in order to influence policy and decision making as it shapes our planet.

Launched in 2016, Homeward Bound gathered the first 76 of a targeted 1,000 women from around the world, all with critical science backgrounds, to undertake a year-long state-of-the-art program to develop their leadership and strategic capabilities, using science to build conviction around the importance of their voices. The inaugural program culminated in the largest-ever female expedition to Antarctica, in December 2016, with a focus on the leadership of women and the state of the world.

The inaugural 2016 voyage took place from 2 – 21 December 2016. The second cohort of women are currently undertaking their year-long leadership program and depart for Antarctica in February 2018. The third program has just begun and departs for their Antarctic voyage on 31 December 2018.

Read the Homeward Bound Strategy Map

Brief History

The project was the idea of Fabian Dattner (leadership activist and partner at Dattner Grant). She collaborated with Jess Melbourne Thomas (Antarctic Marine Ecological Modeler) to gain the support of significant scientific bodies and women of influence to get the project off the ground. In November 2015 the project went viral globally, and by mid-2015 the inaugural program was fully subscribed. The 76 women selected for the inaugural program were from around the world and included: astronomers, engineers, physicists, science communicators, Antarctic and Arctic specialists, doctors and social scientists. The second and third groups of women in science are from even more diverse backgrounds, including more than 28 countries across the world.

The project is supported by a world leading global faculty who are experts in their various domains, including a filmed faculty with contributors such Dr Jane Goodall (primatologist and environmental campaigner); Franny Armstrong (film maker behind ‘The Age of Stupid’, 100 most influential women); Dr Sylvia Earle (global leading Marine Biologist, explorer, author, and lecturer); Christiana Figueres (Former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change); Dr Amy Edmondson (Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School); Dr Susan David (Co-Founder and Director of the Institute of Coaching, awarded speaker and coach, Harvard A-lister); Clare Bowditch (award-winning Australian singer and activist); Dr Robert Kaplan (developed Balanced Score Card strategy execution methodology); and Valerie Taylor (shark expert, known for her conservation advocacy and films).

The Homeward Bound documentary, “Beautiful Minds – Agents of Change”, is being made with celebrated production house Bunya Productions managing the project. It was selected and successfully funded as part of the global Good Pitch initiative, which matches film projects with a significant opportunity to change the world with philanthropists.

Homeward Bound Vision:

To equip a 1000-strong global collaboration of women with a science background to lead, influence and contribute to policy and decision making as it informs the future of our planet within 10 years.

Project Objectives:

  • To elevate each participant’s leadership capabilities.
  • To educate the team on the science of what is happening to our planet.
  • To refine participants’ skills to design and execute strategy, and to create plans for future collaborations as women working towards a sustainable future.
  • To enhance these skills, over a 10-year target, with 1000 women networked and skilled to affect change.
  • To create active, non-hierarchical collaborations among the women both in small groups and as a collective.
  • To be 100% self-funded, i.e. not ‘not for profit’ and not ‘for profit’. Instead, all the women pay a small contribution to the ship and everything else is donated because of the deep belief in the value of women’s leadership in our world at this time.
  • To have a global focus.
  • To contribute to and elevate the broader societal conversation about the role of women in leading the world toward a more sustainable future.


  • 12 month virtual leadership program
  • At sea for approximately 3 weeks, led by Greg Mortimer OAM (2016 and 2018), setting sail from Ushuaia in Argentina
  • Twelve days of state-of-the-art leadership, strategic, science and visibility training delivered by Kit Jackson, Fabian Dattner, Justine Shaw, Mary-Anne Lea, Julia May, Sarah Anderson and other experts in their fields
  • Cutting edge science education program incorporating the most up to date and relevant research about the state and functioning of our planet delivered by leading Australian academics
  • Primarily underwritten by Dattner Grant (see Support for further details)

Why Women:

  • Globally, women are underrepresented in leadership positions and change has been incredibly slow, despite increasing dialogue and process/systems changes.
  • Women are emerging from college degrees as significant percentages of graduates and they take up a significant percentage of our workforce. However, they are in the profound minority globally when it comes to executive decision making roles.
  • By giving these women the leadership and strategic skills, a sound understanding of the science, and a strong purposefully developed network they will be able to impact policy and decisions towards a sustainable future.

girls Photo by Jess Melbourne-Thomas

Why Antarctica:

  • Regions of Antarctica are currently showing amongst the fastest responses to climate change seen anywhere on the planet
  • The study of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, and their roles in the climate system, provides critical insights into global-scale change, and the influence of human activities on environmental change
  • The continent is iconic as a wild, beautiful and unique environment that has captured the imagination of many leaders in the past
  • By taking this journey together we envision the experience will create strong bonds, inspire action and lead to extraordinary collaborations between the women

reflectionPhoto by Mary-Anne Lea

Homeward Bound Strategy Map

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