L’initiative Homeward Bound : le leadership féminin dans le domaine des sciences en Antarctique

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Rédactrice invitée, Biosphere Environmental Education
Soixante-seize femmes provenant de partout dans le monde ont participé à la toute première expédition de l’initiative Homeward Bound de leadership féminin en sciences qui a atteint les confins de l’Antarctique.

Y a-t-il meilleur endroit pour aiguiser ses aptitudes en leadership qu’en plein milieu du territoire hostile de l’Antarctique? Depuis que les explorateurs du début du XXe siècle ont tenté de devenir les premiers à fouler le pôle Sud, ce continent glacé est devenu le théâtre d’une foule de récits qui évoquent le leadership. Pour nous, 76 braves femmes scientifiques provenant de partout autour du monde, l’Antarctique a été la toile de fond de notre propre exploration du leadership.

Les formes, les tailles et les couleurs des icebergs

Les formes, les tailles et les couleurs des icebergs, combinées avec la lumière souvent dramatique, ont créé plusieurs vues renversantes.

As members of the inaugural Homeward Bound Women In Science Leadership Expedition, we are on a mission. The purpose of Homeward Bound is to elevate the role of women in science and to enhance the influence of women on policy and decision-making, which will help shape a sustainable future for us and our planet. Women comprise a mere 30% of the world’s researchers and even fewer (about 9%) are in senior leadership positions in science (UNESCO). At a time when society faces some of its greatest environmental challenges, the world needs the science expertise and leadership that all of us can bring, both women and men.

“Visiting Antarctica, to see and experience its amazing landscapes and wildlife and to go as part of a women in science leadership initiative was beyond a dream come true”.

On December 2, 2016, we boarded our ship in Ushuaia, Argentina and headed across the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula. After a relatively calm crossing of the Drake Passage (some of the roughest seas in the world) we arrived at the South Shetland Islands, our first sighting of land in Antarctica. We spent the next 16 days exploring the Antarctic Peninsula, using small zodiac boats to get from our ship to shore, so that we could explore penguin colonies, view incredible geology, glacier-covered landscapes, and learn first-hand, about the impacts of climate change on Antarctica by talking with scientists at the Carlini (Argentinian) and Palmer (American) Research Stations.

L’Antarctique est un continent recouvert par la plus grande nappe de glace au monde.

L’Antarctique est un continent recouvert par la plus grande nappe de glace au monde. Ici, près du chenal Lemaire, les glaciers, les montagnes et les glaces de mer forment un panorama chavirant qui coupe le souffle.

With the polar regions of the world warming at up to four times faster than the rest of the planet, Antarctica is a fitting place to learn about climate change and the critical importance of shifting to a sustainable lifestyle.


Our ship, the Ushuaia, was our floating home as we explored the Antarctic Peninsula. Our leadership expedition was not a vacation. We had a lot of fun (including bum-sliding down snowy slopes; it beats a long, steep walk down), but we also worked really hard. When we weren’t out exploring the Antarctic landscape, we were in the classroom learning about what makes a good leader, about ourselves and our leadership capabilities and styles, about strategy and how it is critical to becoming influencers, and how to be visible as a means of creating influence and consequently change, in the world. We also learned from each other.

Touring in the zodiac boats

Exploring the Antarctic's incredible geology, glaciology, and penguin colonies.

At Baily Head on Deception Island, we went ashore with our Homeward Bound flag, as well as the Canadian flag I had brought with me, to take photos of our group. Sevenof us on the expedition were from Canada. We were proud to hold our flag amidst a backdrop of penguins and the rugged Antarctic landscape.


We wandered up into the surrounding hills, where the penguins were on their nests, incubating their eggs and protecting them from the often harsh Antarctic spring weather. Penguins nest on rocky, hilly terrain as a way to keep their eggs and chicks dry from the spring snowmelt. As we hiked up into the hills, we were astounded to see the surrounding landscape covered with black and white dots. Each of those ‘dots’ was a penguin on a nest. We were told that the when biologist last estimated the size of this colony a few years ago, there were about 250,000 penguins here. It sounds like a lot and it is, but due to climate change, populations of most penguin species are in decline.

La plage de Baily Head, sur l’île Deception en Antarctique

La plage de Baily Head, sur l’île Deception, est un endroit que je n’oublierai jamais. Nous avons été accueillies sur cette merveilleuse grève de sable volcanique noir par des milliers de manchots à jugulaire.

Antarctica inspires us to do what we need to do to put the brakes on climate change and other environmental issues - it inspires us to action!

À la rencontre d'un manchot à jugulaire très curieux.

Our work with Homeward Bound extends far beyond our expedition. As alumni of Homeward Bound, we are working together to develop collaborative projects that will support HB’s mission. One of my personal goals, and a dream in the making has been to run my own expeditions to Antarctica. In 2014, my dream came true with the creation of Biosphere Environmental Education, offering learning expeditions and adventures that show people firsthand, the beauty and fragility of the frozen continent.

Antarctica may be 15,000 km away from us here in eastern Ontario, but our daily actions - the greenhouse gases we produce from driving our cars, heating and cooling our houses, and other daily activities - is having a direct impact on Antarctica. Sadly, there is truth in the saying, out of sight, out of mind. That’s why I want to take people to Antarctica (and other polar locations). When you see it first hand, experience it with all of your senses, it’s hard to ignore the large impacts that our daily lives are having on our planet. And experiencing Antarctica firsthand crates an emotional connection.

Sculptés par le vent et les vagues, les icebergs présentent de formidables formes et couleurs variées, devenant de somptueuses œuvres d’art.

Anyone who has visited the frozen continent understands how it leaves an indelible mark on us. Watching a glacier calve is a sobering experience, a reminder that globally, our climate is changing. It also helps to make climate change personal and tangible. Antarctica makes us self-aware, aware of how each of us is contributing to the negative impacts on the environment.

Un manchot papou (à gauche) et des manchots Adélie nicheurs (à droite).

Un manchot papou (à gauche) et des manchots Adélie nicheurs (à droite).

This Antarctic expedition was one of the highlights of my life.

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Shelley Ball

Rédactrice invitée du canal Ingenium, Mme Shelley Ball est titulaire d'un doctorat en écologie évolutive et en génétique des populations. Elle a également été membre de l'expédition Homeward Bound Women in Science 2016. Biologiste, éducatrice, photographe, conférencière et conteuse, Dr Ball est le fondateur et le président de Biosphere Environmental Education, une organisation qui combine la photographie et l'exploration comme des moyens de connecter les gens à la nature et de les inspirer à la preserver.