The Homeward Bound Project is an extraordinary leadership and strategic initiative. It aims to enhance the influence and impact of women in science to ensure the sustainability of our beautiful planet.

This year-long state of the art program will see 77 women scientists from around the globe develop their leadership, strategic and scientific capabilities with a focus on climate, biological and earth system research. The program will culminate in an expedition to Antarctica.

A film ‘Leading us Home’ is being made with the Homeward Bound experience as its centerpiece. It is an interrogatory documentary on the nature of leadership in our world, and the contribution that women could make if in equal numbers at the executive table, i.e. it focuses on a compelling reason for change.

The program for 2016 is the first year of a ten-year outreach initiative to build a 1,000 strong global collaboration of women in science, all of whom have had the same experience at sea with a focus on the leadership, planning and execution required to contribute to the recognition of our planet as home.

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.


  • At sea for twenty days, led by Greg Mortimer OAM, setting sail from Ushuaia in Argentina on December 2nd 2016
  • Twelve days of state of the art leadership and strategic planning training delivered by Dr Susan David, Kit Jackson and Fabian Dattner, all experts in their fields
  • Six days of a 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
  • A documentary (60 minute multi media release) is being made, following the journey and exploring the role of women in our world
  • 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

Photo by Jess MT

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


    Photo by Mary-Anne Lea

Brief History

The project was the idea of Fabian Dattner (partner at Dattner Grant and activist for women) and Jess Melbourne Thomas (Antarctic Marine Ecological Modeler). The two collaborated for 6 months to gain the support of significant scientific bodies, and women of influence. In November 2015 the project went viral globally, and by mid-2015 it was fully subscribed. The 78 women selected are from around the world and include: astronomers, engineers, physicists, science communicators, Antarctic and Arctic specialists, doctors and social scientists.

The project is supported by a world leading global faculty who are experts in their various domains. These include Susan David, Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School on emotional agility and resilience (on ship faculty), Amy Edmondson from Harvard Business School on teaming (global filmed faculty), Bob Kaplan from Harvard Business School on strategy (global filmed faculty) and many others. (See biographies to follow.)

The Homeward Bound documentary, “Leading us Home” is being made with celebrated production house Bunya Productions managing the project. It has been selected this year as part of the global Good Pitch initiative, which matches film projects with a significant opportunity to change the world with philanthropists.




Dattner Grant: Amplifying Emerging Voices


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Homeward Bound on Twitter


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Women in Polar Science: website, Facebook