Fourteen female scientists from the United States are joining 66 other women from 13 countries and embark on a three-week expedition to the Antarctica. The expedition is the culminating event of Homeward Bound, a year-long innovative leadership initiative for women in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) that aims to heighten the leadership capability of women to enhance their influence and impact on policy and decision making.

Hilary McManus, Ph.D., associate professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences at Le Moyne, will be among those traveling to Antarctica. The group of 80 women left on Feb. 13 for the three-week journey, which will involve travel in the Southern Ocean and on Antarctica, where they will take part in cutting-edge science education and research initiatives, as well as spending time on the ice directly observing changes to the climate.

“I am looking forward to the innovative ideas and new collaborations that will develop after three weeks with experts in marine sponges, sustainable energy, and permafrost, and meeting women with such diverse experiences,” said Dr. McManus, shown above on 2017 College trip to Iceland. (Photo credit Gwen Morgan)

Among the media interest about her trip were stories on syracuse.com and WSYR-TV

Dr. McManus is part of just the second group of women to participate in Homeward Bound, whose inaugural cohort was in 2016. The U.S. contingent includes just one other academic member, a professor from Iowa State; other professions represented include a veterinarian, a Smithsonian Institution researcher, a U.S. Department of Energy chemist and a meteorologist. Other countries represented are Australia, Canada, China, France, Italy, Kenya, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Spain, United Kingdom, and Venezuela.

Founded in Australia, Homeward Bound is a designed to promote women with a science background into positions of leadership affecting policy around the sustainability of our planet. The brainchild of Fabian Dattner, leadership expert and social entrepreneur, and Dr. Jess Melbourne-Thomas, a marine ecological modeller working in Australian Institute of Marine Science and Australian Antarctic Division, Homeward Bound's vision is supported by studies that show decision-making processes in which women play a prominent role are more likely to succeed.

"Collaborative teams of women will focus on developing their leadership capabilities to influence significant issues at a global level including climate change, deforestation, species extinction, and quality of life. Teams will also tackle specific gender issues, such as sexual harassment and bullying, as they affect the progression of women in general, and specifically in STEMM," said Dattner. This year's expedition will have a greater focus on developing skills to communicate climate science to non-scientific audiences. Over the course of 10 years, Homeward Bound anticipates creating a network of over 1,000 women in STEMM fields to strengthen their leadership roles to support global sustainability.

Antarctica provides the perfect backdrop for this leadership initiative. It is an iconic visual of the impacts of climate change and is the world’s laboratory for understanding what will happen if we do not act - just recently an iceberg larger than the State of Delaware melted enough to break apart and will soon set adrift on the ocean. This landscape will strengthen the spirit of collaboration between the participants and instill a sense of urgency to take action to attenuate dangerous impacts from climate change.

Learn more about Homeward Bound at homewardboundprojects.com.au, or follow on Facebook @homewardboundprojects; Instagram @homewardboundprojects or Twitter @HomewardBound16