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Antarctic journey for female scientists

AAP logoAAP 25/11/2016 Rebecca Gredley

An all-female expedition to Antarctica is the first step in a 10-year plan that aims to network and equip 1000 women for the executive level in science.

The Homeward Bound leadership expedition departs for the remote icy continent on December 2, and includes eight women from WA among the group of 77.

Leadership activist Fabian Dattner says the 20-day trip is about bringing global awareness to the low representation of women in leadership positions, and the contributions they can make to help shape policy and decisions.

"They say you don't go to Antarctica and come back the same person. We want the women to come back and know they should be a leader," she told AAP.

"Our voice in the world may be the distinguishing difference in terms of sustainability."

The project has the support of renowned female scientists such as Dr Jane Goodall, Franny Armstrong and Dr Sylvia Earl.

Women make up less than 20 per cent of senior roles across all science fields, which The University of Western Australia academic Melinda Fitzgerald says is because of both subtle and overt reasons.

"There is unconscious gender bias, women are perhaps not selected for things they could be selected for," the associate professor said.

Gender diversity at the executive level was important, she added, and scientific training allowed for critical and objective thinking.

"Diverse teams operate more effectively and they take more risks," Professor Fitzgerald said.

A documentary team will be joining the group to Antarctica and will release a film about the trip in 2017.

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