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Leadership in Antarctica

By Aldara B. Dios

After a year of preparation and three weeks in Antarctica, we were looking forward to hearing all about Catherine Sorbara and Hannah Laeverenz Schlogelhofer journey.  So when our Co-Chair Raheela Rehman introduced the event we were very excited.

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Raheela Rehman, CamAWiSE Co-Chair.

 

We were fortunate enough to have BAS’s support once again to celebrate this event at their first-class venue: The Aurora Center. The Director of Innovations and Impact, Beatrix Schlarb-Ridley,  opened the evening. She reminded us that women had come a long way since the days when we were not allowed in Antarctica, when 20 years ago the British research stations in the Antarctic were male-only.  Today we have two women as BAS Directors. This was important remark with Antarctica in the background of Homeward Bound. A leadership initiative which aims to heighten the influence and impact of women in making decisions that shape our plane.

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Beatrix Schlarb-Ridley and Cathy Sorbara

The inspiration

It was more than a year ago, during our AGM, that Cathy Sorbara heard Deborah Pardo talk passionately about her journey to Antarctica. She was so inspired and touched that she decided she needed to live the same experience. In only three days she finished her application and a year later she started her own journey.

I went to Antarctica worried about the envioment. Now, I am a climate warrior.

Cathy Sorbara.

Hannah and Cathy started their journey a year before sailing to Antarctica. The Homeward Bound program includes a year-long program of self-discovery, mentorship, and leadership.  It includes a toolkit to help you learn who you are and how to be the best of you, to understand what story you told about yourself and if it is true or not, and to learn what kind of leadership style is your ideal and how to become that leader.

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Hannah Laeverenz Schlogelhofer and Cathy Sorbara

The new normal

Last February Cathy and Hannah embarked with another 76 women at Isuahia. The life on the ship quickly became their new normal.  Half their day was dedicated to the leadership program and the other half to explore the wildlife. And, of course, as scientists, they also made a symposium@sea where the themes were decided by a vote.

They had special moments with whales, laughed with penguins and learned to respect the sea lions.

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Image by Cathy Sorbara

They learned about themselves, about what means to be a good leader, about how women in the world suffer the most with the consequences of climate disasters and how Antarctica and the planet needs our protection.

The evening included interactive exercises where Cathy and Hannah helped us understand how difficult is to communicate and how we are not alone with our insecurities.

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Cathy Sorbara and Hannah Laeverenz Schlogelhofer

It was an empowering event and we hope that someone in the public was inspired to start her own journey to Antarctica. As the Homeward Bound motto goes “Mother nature needs her daughters”.

Group Photo

Image by Oli Samson

Applications for TeamHB04 close at 10AM AEST on Friday May 18, 2018.

 

Men as champions of change with Jill Armstrong

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Collaborating with Men is ground-breaking research conducted by Murray Edwards College with men to establish how men and women can work together to transform workplace culture barriers to women’s progress into leadership positions. Much research shows how women’s careers are ill-affected by assumptions and behaviour in the workplace that arise from the dominance of masculine culture. Yet, very little research has sought the point of view of men. The research asks men who support gender equality: Do they see the problems women report? What they can personally do to help change the workplace? What support do they need from leaders?

Read more about Jill Armstrong and her research.

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10th October.

20:00-22:00

Lucy Cavendish College

Reception rooms

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My Homeward Bound Journey: The Beginning by Cathy Sorbara.

A little over four months ago, was the annual general meeting CamAWiSE, my first event acting as Chair. I listened to a talk by Dr. Deborah Pardo, a population modeller from the British Antarctic Survey, who was part of Homeward Bound’s maiden voyage to Antarctica last year. I heard her talk with such passion and clarity about Homeward Bound’s mission and how it has changed her life that I knew immediately that I needed to be part of this story.

Homeward Bound, she said, is a groundbreaking leadership, strategic and science initiative, and outreach for women, set against the backdrop of Antarctica.

The initiative, turned global movement, aims to heighten the influence and impact of women with a science background in order to influence policy and decision making as it shapes our planet.

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Deborah Pardo

When it launched in 2016, Homeward Bound gathered the first 76 of a targeted 1,000 women from around the world, all with critical science backgrounds, to undertake a year-long state-of-the-art program to develop their leadership and strategic capabilities, using science to build conviction around the importance of their voices. The inaugural program culminated in the largest-ever female expedition to Antarctica, in December 2016, with a focus on the leadership of women and the state of the world.

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Where do I sign up? I asked her following her talk. Serendipitously, the applications for the 2018 voyage were due three days later.

I rushed home and cleared my schedule for the weekend. I started to scroll through the online application and with each question my inner critic was pleading for me to quit. The questions ranged from Why are you suitable for Homeward Bound? To Given your science background, how do you think your leadership could influence policy and decision making? I even had to create a 2-minute elevator pitch and upload it to YouTube for their assessment.

I searched through last years’ participant videos and felt completely out of my league. These women were true leaders, leading inspirational lives. They were professors, heads of research organizations and environmental conservationists.

I, on the other hand, was a biochemist by training, I did my Ph.D. in Medical Life Science in Munich Germany and following my graduate studies, I stepped away from research. I never considered myself a leader and found the label very intimating.

Then there was the biggest catch. One of the project’s objectives is to be 100% self-funded, so not ‘not-for-profit’ and not ‘for-profit’. All women must contribute $16 000 USD. This covers the cost of being on the ship for 21 nights, hotel accommodation, faculty meetings, administration and operational contributions. On top of this, I would still need to pay for flights to our departure point at Ushuaia, Argentina.

I scrolled seemingly hundreds of times through the application and last years’ participant list, slowly talking myself out of applying. Then I saw a paragraph at the very of the application in BOLD. It said, We know women tend to only apply to positions where we feel we qualify 100%. We are here to tell you: JUST APPLY. We want women from a variety of STEM backgrounds at a variety of stages in the leadership journey. Sincerely, The Homeward Bound Team.

 

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Photo by Deborah Pardo

 

Then I started thinking of my own situation.

I am in a unique position. I am a scientist, chair of CamAWiSE and COO of the Cheeky Scientist Association, a global training platform for STEM academics looking to transition into industry. I have the ability to lead, influence and contribute to the lives of thousands of women and hopefully instill upon them confidence and encouragement to achieve their goals. My colleagues are located across Europe, Australia, India, and America, to name but a few countries. Building relationships, managing time zones and learning remote communication tools to enhance my leadership and strategical capability is not only a bonus but an absolute necessity for me to be successful in my current role and make a difference in the lives of others. I bring with me the voice of early career scientist that I counsel daily and know first hand their struggles, fears and dreams that need be heard in order to create policies to shape the future of our planet.

 

In particular, self-doubt within female PhDs is incredibly strong and inhibiting. I joined Homeward Bound to prove to those graduates that we can all be leaders and that leadership comes in many forms and from many fields.

To me, leadership is about finding out who you are as a person and using your gifts, your own unique attributes, to inspire others to be the best versions of themselves. Leaders do not create a vision on their own but bring together the best team of individuals that together can achieve greatness. When a great leader steps down or moves on, the team not only remains strong but can thrive due to the lasting impression of that leader and confidence she instilled upon.

Homeward Bound is definitely outside my comfort zone, which is why I am even more driven to do it.

Two weeks after submitting my application, I received the congratulatory email that I was selected out of the hundreds of women across the globe that had applied. We will be stronger together!

If you would like to support my journey, please see my crowd funding page here: https://igg.me/at/fb1KLsOodu8

 

 

Let’s Get Quizzical: A women in STEM Quiz night

Join us!
A fun and relaxed evening of networking for women in STEM. A superb opportunity to meet other women in academia, industry, and enterprise at different career stages.

For part of the evening, we will have a fun thematic quiz night. How much do you know about women in STEM? Are you ready to win our big prize or will you be the wooden spoon?

And of course, as every year we have a special summer treat: famous Lucy Cavendish’s mini scones and strawberries & cream.

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Lucy Cavendish College
Reception rooms
Tuesday 18th July
20:00-22:00

Lucy Cavendish College is a walking distance from the City Center
There is plenty of space for your bike and free parking for attendees.

Book here!

 

 

Winter networking 2016

Speed networking, stories of real-life professional women and mince pies. That could be a recap of the 2016 winter networking, but it was so much more.

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Mince pies

During the speed networking, the room was filled with energy as attendees changed partner every five minutes. This allowed everybody to make more contacts and to hone their networking skills.

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End of a five minutes segment.

After the networking, several members of the steering group talked about their professional careers. Although they all had different paths they all stressed the importance of doing what you enjoy and not what you are supposed to do

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Julia Bardos

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Anne Clarke

For all of them, CamAWiSE was very important in different stages of their career as a friendly and supportive group. Indeed, CamAWiSE is a good place to connect with professional women who share similar experiences, gain skills and increase your confidence.

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Penny Coggill

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Claire Lucas

We also had an impromptu speaker: Lucy Bennett, an engineering student who brought out the importance of having female role models for students like her.

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Lucy Bennett

Thank you very much to all the speakers for sharing their experiences with us.

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