- For the second year in a row, female researchers at Charles Sturt University have been selected for the global Homeward Bound women in STEMM leadership program
- Homeward Bound works towards gender equality and equal access and participation for women and girls in science and research
- The researchers will participate in a year-long online leadership course before joining a group research excursion to Antarctica
Two early-career female environmental science researchers at Charles Sturt University in Port Macquarie have been selected for the 2023/24 cohort of the international women’s leadership initiative Homeward Bound.
Homeward Bound aims to advance the leadership capacity of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM).
The places have been awarded to Dr Alexandra Knight (pictured, left), Lecturer in Environmental Management in the Charles Sturt School of Agricultural, Environmental and Veterinary Sciences in Port Macquarie, and Ms Jessica Leck (pictured, right), a Sessional Lecturer in the School. They are also environmental researchers in the Charles Sturt Gulbali Research Institute of Agriculture, Water and Environment.
Charles Sturt Vice-Chancellor Professor Renée Leon congratulated Dr Knight and Ms Leck on being two of the 110 women accepted from around the world for the 2023/24 Homeward Bound Program for Women in STEMM.
“This is a fantastic achievement for Alex and Jess, and the University, as they are the second Charles Sturt University academics to be accepted into the program,” she said.
“Having recently marked the United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science (Saturday 11 February) and International Women’s Day (Wednesday 8 March), it is particularly important to highlight projects such as the Homeward Bound program which underpin work towards gender equality and equal access and participation for women and girls in science and research.
“I am proud that Charles Sturt University is part of the Homeward Bound program for women.”
Executive Dean of the Charles Sturt Faculty of Science and Health Professor Megan Smith said, “We are really proud of Alex and Jess and their success in being selected for this program.
“Women in STEMM face more challenges to be successful than their male counterparts so programs like the Homeward Bound Leadership initiative are so important to lift women up and give them opportunities.”
Dr Knight said it’s an honour to be chosen to participate in Homeward Bound.
“I’m looking forward to working with all the other women in the eighth Homeward Bound cohort as we deepen our leadership capabilities together,” she said.
“Our world faces so many challenges today, and I feel that older women scientists, like me, have a lot to offer to make change for the better, and our voices are increasingly being heard as a result of initiatives like Homeward Bound.
“My focus continues to be on working with communities to learn about, protect and enhance Australian nature, and my aim in this program is to gain skills and networks that will help raise awareness of the fragility, beauty and uniqueness of our biodiversity and landscapes.”
Ms Leck said she is honoured to have been selected for the eighth Homeward Bound cohort and being a part of a network of women who have inspired her throughout her early career.
“I applied for Homeward Bound due to our shared valuing of the importance of diversity in leadership, and the role STEMM professionals must play in this leadership if we are to effectively address the issues we face as a global community,” she said.
“To now be a part of a cohort of over 110 women and to work with them as we go through this training to better our leadership skills is something I could have only dreamt of a few years ago.
“I hope through this process and my fundraising work, I will show other young women how accessible and fulfilling a career in STEMM can be, even in a regional area.”
To fund her place in this program, Ms Leck is offering two in-school visits to schools across eastern NSW over two years.
“I am offering to visit each school twice, first to give a talk about myself and the program, the importance of diversity in STEMM, and what a career in STEMM can look like in a regional area,” she said.
“Then in 2025, following our voyage to Antarctica, I will come back and tell the students about the trip and the inspiring stories of the women I meet.”
Any educators or group coordinators who would like to host Ms Leck from third term in 2023 onwards can contact her via her website at www.jessicaleck.com.
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