Homeward Bound Women in Science Leadership Programme: Antarctica

Madeleine Brasier

University of Liverpool


In 2017 I was awarded a place on the Homeward Bound Women in Science Leadership Programme (as my post in the Challenger Society's Captain's Blog). The training takes place over a 12-month period and covers science communication, leadership, personal strategy and visibility, culminating in a three-week expedition to Antarctica. A total of 78 women from 14 different counties and different STEM fields took part in the expedition which visited Antarctica in February-March 2018.
To fund the expedition each participant must raise c. $20,000. After being a member of the CSMS for several years and participating in a range of outreach events as well as being on the local organising committee for the Liverpool Challenger Meeting in 2016, I was delighted to be awarded a CSMS travel grant to help fund my expedition.
The training coincided with the final year of my PhD. The visibility training and funding requirements helped me share my science with wider audiences. Over the last year I have given public science talks, visited ~20 UK schools, done radio interviews and several newspaper and magazine articles. These opportunities have been of benefit to my personal development   and have increased the visibility of UK marine science.
During the expedition I could network with the other Homeward Bound participants, gaining contacts around the globe and insight into different scientific disciplines including conservation, policy, education and sustainable technologies. This was an amazing experience and opportunity. Science working groups within the 2018 cohort are now planning initiatives to help improve the gender gap in science, reduce our impact on the planet and raise awareness of climate change.
Antarctica was chosen as the backdrop of Homeward Bound because of its isolation and vulnerability. Training in this environment, where our impact of climate change is so visible, underlines the growing need for international collaboration. During the expedition we visited 4 different research bases; Carlini (Argentina), Great Wall (China), Palmer (USA) and Rothera (UK) as well as sites of historical importance: - Port Lockroy and Base Y (British) and other locations of biological interest.
As I advance into the postdoctoral world I feel the skills, connections and experiences gained from Homeward Bound will help my confidence and professional abilities to move into new roles and positions. The programme will continue for a further 8 years with a new cohort each year. I am happy to talk to any CSMS members who are considering apply and hope that the CSMS are able to support future participants.

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