State of the Ice

By Joanna-Marie Davey

The brains behind the largest all-female voyage to Antarctica, Fabian Dattner, talks to MiNDFOOD about the expedition.

Most people have dreams of booking a tropical holiday with family, buying a dream home 
or getting the job they’ve always wanted; for one of Australasia’s leading female entrepreneurs, a different dream beckoned. “In that dream, I am taking 45 women to Antarctica, I’m getting state-of-the-art leadership development on the way there, state-of-the-art connection 
to sciences that inform us about what is happening with the planet, and state-of-the-art development and execution skills in order to increase their influence around policy and decision-making in the world.”

Since 2014, Fabian Dattner has worked tirelessly – and collaborated with other female scientists including Jess Melbourne-Thomas – to make this dream come to fruition and create the incredible story 
of Homeward Bound.

The first 20-day voyage for the Homeward Bound expeditions will depart in December and, with 77 women involved in the project, it will be the world’s largest all-female expedition to Antarctica.

All the women taking part are engaged in critical science disciplines. Their goal is 
to bring global awareness to the cost of low representation of women in leadership and highlight their potential contribution to policy and decision-making in terms of climate change and protecting the state of our “home”. Dattner sees many problems when discussing climate change with her peers, in particular our ongoing inability 
to respond to climate change.

Dattner says, “The fact is, the facts don’t speak for themselves! The Kardashians get more coverage than the plight of the Adélie penguin, and that’s symptomatic of a 
global change.” A long-serving activist and advocate for women, Dattner has made it her life’s work to elevate the voices of women. She chose to focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), one of the most heavily male-dominated fields in the world, because she saw a need for someone to advocate for these women’s intellect and capabilities.

“It was the best decision I could 
have ever made, because what if women collaborating is the single most helpful element we can have to create a sustainable future?” Dattner says.

As the team prepares to make its voyage to Antarctica – to regions currently showing some of the fastest responses to climate change seen anywhere on the planet – the women are ready to embark on a journey 
of collaboration, leadership and teaching. Most of all, this expedition hopes to get these intelligent female scientists’ voices into the public domain and make an impact on the world. “I’m a mother of three sons and I think understanding the strength of women together is something I want my children to know about. The world will be better for that knowledge,” says Dattner.

For the people who cannot take part in this incredible voyage, Dattner encourages observers at home to make some conscious adjustments. “Listen, encourage and pay attention to the research. It’s about building women’s courage to stay the course, have a voice and speak in a safe environment.”



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