Harassment, abuse, systemic sexism, imposter syndrome and the gender pay gap are challenges impacting women working in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, medicine and maths).

Now four powerful stories of female scientists who participated in Homeward Bound, a global and transformational leadership initiative for women with a background in STEMM, put a human face to the statistics. 

The four case studies in The Leadership Professional Development Videos promote awareness of systemic gender inequality, illustrate the significant personal impact of these issues on women in STEMM and the wider female workforce, and motivate real and lasting change in the workplace. 

“We’re very grateful to the women who have shared their stories so intimately to foster a deeper understanding of the experiences of women in STEMM,” Director of The Leadership Film, Ili Baré says. “Our hope is these videos will play their part alongside other initiatives which together can turn the tide towards more inclusive STEMM environments.” 

The Professional Development videos were produced in partnership with The Leadership Film and Homeward Bound and interviews and material filmed during for the 2020 documentary. 

In The Leadership, Homeward Bound co-founder and ‘dreamer’ Fabian Dattner, a leadership expert from Melbourne, leads an international group of female scientists on an Antarctic voyage designed to transform them “into the sort of leaders they want to be”. 

The documentary unearths the profoundly troubling systemic obstacles to women’s advancement in science and beyond. The issues women in STEMM continue to face are put under the spotlight in the Professional Development Videos. 

Featured in the videos are environmental scientist Dr Anne Christianson, malariologist Dr Sarah Charnaud, sustainable buildings advocate Dr Samantha Hall and sociologist Professor Meredith Nash.

Dr Samantha Hall is the founder of higher education design research consultancy Campus Intuition in Perth, Western Australia. She describes how working on a start-up whilst pregnant revealed the extent of unconscious bias women face when becoming mothers, and the challenges this presented for her career.

“Once you have children your value seems to decline, you are put in a pre-defined box,” she says. “I hope we continue to see systemic shifts that will not just encourage but celebrate men working part-time and sharing the caring duties often taken up by women.”

Dr Charnaud, also a molecular parasitologist now working on improving research and development processes in the World Health Organisation in Switzerland, describes how systemic gender inequality and imposter syndrome previously affected her career.

“Anyone can experience imposter syndrome and it can be a huge weight,” Dr Charnaud says. “But I’m learning to use it to drive myself when I need to, and not to limit myself.”

Dr Anne Christianson, a Director of International Climate Policy in Washington DC, describes the impact of systemic sexism on her career, while Australian National University Professor Meredith Nash describes the impact of the gendered lens and sexism in science.

Leadership expert Fabian Dattner says she wonders why so little change is materially happening for women in STEMM.

“I suspect because so many incumbent leaders don’t really believe it is as bad as it is,” she says. “We can make the change needed. It needs skill for sure, but nothing happens without the Will for change.”

The Leadership Professional Development Videos have been developed for use by professional facilitators, corporate trainers, educators and government managers to create awareness of the issues and facilitate systemic change in the workplace.

The videos are supported by workshop facilitator guides which encourage discussion and potential actions to contribute to fair and safe workplaces for women in STEMM and beyond, including the importance of positioning of women in leadership.

The facilitator guides were written by Homeward Bound coach Patricia Hill.

“Four women, humble, powerful, changing their worlds. These women have allowed us into their lives, so we can reflect on ours, challenge ourselves, to do better, to be better,” Ms Hill says.

The Leadership documentary film was produced by Bunya Productions and made with the generous support and financing of Screen Australia, GOOD PITCH Australia, Shark Island Institute, Documentary Australia Foundation and Screen NSW. The Leadership Professional Development videos were made with support from GOOD PITCH Australia partners in association with Homeward Bound.

Order The Leadership Professional Development Videos here.