Our Rate My Space blog will be a little quiet over the holiday season as I’m heading to Antarctica as part of Homeward Bound, a leadership program designed specifically to elevate the leadership potential of women in science. In 24 hours we’ll be stepping onto the boat off the coast of Ushuaia and heading across the tumultuous Drake Passage to spend 3 weeks immersed in leadership training surrounded by the spine tingling Antarctic environment.

img_7807Ugh you’re thinking, another female leadership program? Any why Antarctica? Well it probably got your attention for a start. The thought of rugged and remote Antarctica leaves people spell bound. Climate change occurs more rapidly in Antarctica, it is an indicator of the future of our planet. With most attendees working in climate change related science, we couldn’t be in a more inspiring location. Left is the view from Ushuaia, the gateway to Antarctica.

I was attracted to this program by, well the science behind it. We know diversity at the leadership table can result in more ethical decisions. Yet leadership rarely receives the air-time it deserves as a crucial lever to a better world.

We must have diverse input to solve complex global issues.

At this point in my life I have no desire to be the CEO of an ASX company, but I don’t want to just sit back read the damning diversity-gap statistics anymore. I want to figure out how we take the science combined with the natural caring instinct of females to create greater social and environmental impact.

Homeward Bound is about authentic, emotionally intelligent leadership, where women are recognised, trusted and wanted for the unique skills they bring to the table.

This year has been an awakening to what I perceived as leadership. Many women I saw as role models were aggressive ‘man-women’, taking on the tough male persona in order to garner respect. I, therefore, must think/act/speak like a man. We are lucky enough to stand on the shoulders of women before us, some had to be these tough women to make it. But I’m tired of this, we all are.

I don’t want to be someone else anymore.

The Springboard female tech start-up accelerator program is an example of change occurring to cater to how women really think. It was created due to the low participation of female start-up founders. A lot of women don’t excel in the traditional start-up environment of scale, grow, compete, be tough, work 24-7, no time for family etc. I’ve been to so many start-up events where I felt like a foreigner but that I had to somehow fit into this mentality. I don’t naturally thrive in that frame of mind and could only sit in those events thinking ‘no wonder we have low participation’! Springboard is about support, learning and collaboration, as is Homeward Bound with a ten year participation goal of 1000 women around the world generating an international support network.

Balancing (or perhaps not balancing) the workload for 2016 has certainly given me more grey hair, but also an in depth understanding of the diversity issue. This was helped tremendously by interviews from some amazing women, Maria Atkinson, Topaz Conway, Julie Demsall-of-usey, Michelle Sandford and Narelle Hooper. More blogs to follow with their wonderful insights!

I’ve spent 2 days in Ushuaia prior to departure and have already made some incredible bonds with other participants. The purpose, passion and intelligence of these women is inspiring. We are all driven by something bigger than us.

For now, I need to switch off my pre-conditioned ‘you’re not good enough, smart enough, you don’t belong’ voice and focus my time and energy on this boat, on what I can learn, and bring home to help women around me thrive in systems that tend to hold us back. Please sign up to follow our journey!

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