5 days until the ship leaves Ushuaia, Argentina, for Antarctica, carrying the 78 women in science who form the second Homeward Bound cohort. Before, during and after the voyage, we’ll bring you the stories of more than 20 of those women, in their words and pictures: our #TeamHB2018 correspondents. You’ll hear from them about how the past 12 months of working together has influenced them. You’ll get a visceral sense of life on the ship as we post stories crafted from some of the most remote and fragile parts of the planet, by some of the most talented women scientists on the planet. And you’ll hear what happens for them when they return.

Our second correspondent, Nina Earl, Assistant Curator, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences talks about the responsibility of being a first follower and what she’s learnt about leadership.


When I found Homeward Bound in mid-2016 it was described to me as a 12-month leadership program that would build a global network of women over the next 10 years. At that time, I could not have truly imagined what I would sign myself up for only six months later.

Since being accepted into the 2018 cohort I have spent the last 12-months working on personal and professional development. I have spoken to the media, undertaken the self-diagnostic tool LSI (Life Styles Inventory), approached sponsors for fundraising and organised an event. I have stepped outside my comfort zone and at times I have felt alone and vulnerable. As I worked through my self-reflection I came to realise that I am not alone but am sharing this rollercoaster of a journey with 79 other incredible women. Their positivity, humour and insights have made this journey of self-discovery brighter and easier. They have reminded me constantly that we are a part of something bigger.

As we began to prepare for the next part of the program, we were able to reach out to the first cohort of women for advice and support. As the first group to undertake the program their experiences shaped and redefined what ours will be. And just as their insight have supported us, we will in turn provide advice, guidance and critique to support the newly selected TeamHB19.

There is a lot to be said for following second, the hardest hurdles on the path have been cleared for us. And the program has been refined to provide our year with even greater benefit. Still, I have found myself struggling to convince people of the value in what we are doing. Homeward Bound as an idea and as a program is still in its infancy. I find myself having to explain to people that this is not a holiday I am embarking on and it is not a scientific research trip. I am at the start of a global movement geared towards empowering women in science to forge their own paths and to build the confidence to make their voices heard. People are starting to take note though and at many times throughout this last year I have seen hints of what this ambitious 10-year goal might become.

In only a few days I will set out on the next leg of the journey, equipped with a new understanding of myself. My skills at this time are raw and undefined. I don’t know yet exactly how these tools will shape and hone me as a leader, but I am looking forward to refining them. I am excited to unplug from the demands of email, work and social media so that I can explore and build a solid foundation within myself. Because for me, this is what Homeward Bound and this trip to Antarctica offers; the tools and space to rebuild my core to become a strong, resilient and hopeful person. Someone that leads by example, a person whom people choose to follow and someone who always has the strength to continue growing.