Cold hard facts

EIGHTY scientists board a ship to Antarctica on a mission to save the world from environmental armageddon.

It sounds like a Hollywood disaster movie, but it’s actually a pretty fair description of the real-life expedition two Fremantle boffins will join later this year.

But this mission has a twist unheard of in Hollywood: all the scientists are women.

Dr Samantha Hall and Kathleen Patrick will join Homeward Bound on the tip of South America and spend three weeks floating off Antarctic while tackling the dual issues of climate change and the chronic under-representation of women in science.

Dr Hall says she’s felt first-hand the difficulties of being a woman in a male-dominated industry.

“I have battled to get my voice heard, and in this male-dominated industry we tend not to have the confidence to speak up,” she told the Herald.

Kathleen Patrick and Samantha Hall are heading to Antarctica. Photo by Steve Grant

Kathleen Patrick and Samantha Hall are heading to Antarctica. Photo by Steve Grant

Gender bias

Dr Hall says studies have shown that science funding for anonymous applications is evenly distributed between the sexes, but if the names are left on, male scientists get 70 per cent.

Dr Hall co-founded SimpyCarbon, a Fremantle-based environmental consultancy which develops large-scale sustainability solutions, while studying for her PhD in 2011.

Ms Patrick was a geologist and a chemical engineer before joining Scitech as a science communicator with a focus on Aboriginal education.

She says the world is missing out by not including women’s voices in the climate change fight, as they bring new dimensions.

“There was a study released this morning from the University of Massachusetts where their prediction of the sea level rise was going to be a metre above the current level by 2100,” Ms Patrick told the Herald.

“If that’s the case, millions, or even billions, will be displaced, and while we can’t prevent that now, we can be planning for how to deal with it.”

Homeward Bound aims to bring together 1000 female scientists over the next decade to help propel each other into positions of authority in the sciences.

Dr Hall and Ms Patrick will have to pay most of their own way, and are holding a storytelling session at Little Creatures in Fremantle on April 7. Head to to find tickets.


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