A group of 1,000 women in science from around the globe will travel to Earth’s southernmost continent to gather research, influence environmental policy and make their voices heard in the face of climate change as part of the Homeward Bound initiative.
Though Antarctica may not seem like the most productive place for activists to develop their scientific skills to inform policy-making, the opportunity for these scientists to work on a women-only team could let them take creative control of their research while getting a taste of the stunning natural world we risk losing if climate change isn’t addressed.
Hilary McManus, a professor of biology at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, recently participated in the trip. McManus says both the natural and social environments were equally important during her trip to Antarctica.
“The most powerful part of my experience was the safe and collaborative space that was created and how, as a collective, we all worked toward common goals to address environmental issues and gender bias in the workplace,” McManus said.
Programs like Homeward Bound offer a space for women to build confidence in expressing their opinions, defending their findings and standing up for environmental protection. And creating empowering environments for women to advocate for themselves, especially in STEM fields, is something Stephanie Wyatt, an assistant in Syracuse University’s Women in Science and Engineering program, believes is essential. Wyatt said it’s crucial women don’t back down from defending themselves in the workplace.
“Women have traditionally shied away from advocating for themselves, thinking that they may come across as ungrateful or pushy,” Wyatt said. “However, women have as much right as men to stand up for themselves, whether that be in asking for a fair salary or in publishing their research.”
The latter is especially important as we attempt to battle the effects of climate change, McManus said.
“Every woman has a voice and deserves to be heard. Global issues cannot be fully addressed with everyone’s interests in mind if only half the population is represented in the decision-making process,” she said.
All hands are needed in this battle, and it’s imperative that a diversity of perspectives and experiences are present to help humanity develop a healthier relationship with our planet.
While not everyone can make it to Antarctica, the women who have can work as role models to inspire us on our own paths toward our dream careers.
“You matter, your voice matters and every little bit of action matters. Explore, listen, contribute, lift each other up and grow,” McManus said.