Highway Engineer takes journey to the end of the earth for STEMM

Louise Batts, IEng MICE, MCIHT, New member to Women in Transport

Images - HB16 cohort Photos - Oli Sansom, HB18

The global dearth of women leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) is proving hard to overturn. However, as a highway engineer, and a recent new member of Women in Transport, I am taking my commitment to leadership to the end of the earth after being chosen as a Homeward Bound participant. I am bracing myself for a year-long programme and an expedition to Antarctica, and I want to share this innovative programme with you all.

Homeward Bound is a ground-breaking leadership initiative for women with a STEMM background. It aims to increase the leadership capability of women and enhance their influence and impact on the policy and decision making which shapes our planet.

Founded in 2016, the programme was the idea of Australian leadership expert Fabian Dattner. But how does one woman change the world? The answer is - with the support of others.

The Homeward Bound Programme plans to upskill 1,000 women globally between 2016 and 2026. I am on the Fourth cohort, HB04, and have just started the 12-month programme. It culminates in a meeting of global participants in Ushuaia, Argentina, before embarking on a life-changing expedition to one of the most ecologically sensitive and inspiring areas on Earth, Antarctica, in November 2019. Each participant is expected to contribute 25+ hours per month of personal time towards their development which has four core components;

1. Leadership development

2. Strategic capability

3. Visibility and science communication

4. Science collaboration

The aim of the programme is to provide leadership, strategic, visibility and communication capabilities, to help promote women into decision-making positions affecting policy around the sustainability of our planet.

Research increasingly shows that visibility is a key gap between the will and the ability to lead – and that visibility is a critical, but often overlooked, strategy for advancing women into leadership positions. It is widely acknowledged women are under-represented in leadership globally. Today, only 26 women are in CEO roles at Fortune 500 companies, that’s 5.2%. The stats stay virtually the same for women CEOs of Fortune 1,000 companies at 5.4%, showing there is little movement of women making up these high-ranking positions as company leaders. The visibility stream of the Homeward Bound programme attempts to bridge this gap.

HB04 is the most diverse cohort yet, 100 women, encompassing 33 nationalities and 25 STEMM disciplines, which includes, scientists, chemists, doctors, mathematicians, astrophysicists, oceanographers and engineers.

Why did I apply? Because, I’m passionate to see an increase in strong female leaders in the engineering sector. I want to become the leader I aspire to see by improving my strategy, leadership and communication. I want to be a role model for women in construction and to become a visible STEMM professional as well as supporting, inspiring and mentoring other young engineers in this sector.

Over the next year, I aim to step up my leadership capacity in my workplace and community, working with universities, schools, organisations and institutions to ensure gender equality and leadership opportunities for girls and women.

Engineers are 'doers' and problem solvers. In our current world where decisions are being made, policy written, and action taken to protect the planet, it's engineers that deliver on these promises. And I believe I am the right woman to help both engineers and women in transport do this.

The total cost of this year-long leadership program and three-week expedition to Antarctica is £26,000 per participant. Of that, approximately £12,000 is subsidised via in-kind contributions. It's up to individual participants to cover the remaining fees and requirements, which adds up to a total cost of approximately £18,000. I am working my way towards this goal slowly, but still a while away from attaining my target. Those who share the vision and wish to support me can donate to my crowdfunding campaign https://chuffed.org/project/louises-voyage-homeward-bound. I would welcome support from both individuals and businesses. If you have more ideas or would like to help in some way, please get in contact.

I’m excited to be starting this journey and to see what emerges from this new network of contacts, shared ideas and professional development. You can follow me throughout 2019 on my website where I will be posting regular updates - www.louisesvoyagehomewardbound.com

This is an opportunity I want to share with other women in transport, and hopefully inspire more members, their daughters, mothers, aunties and grandmothers (there is no age limit!) to apply for future programmes. HB05 applications will be open in early-mid 2019.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for women in transport, and I hope to see some of you soon as part of the next cohort.

Contact Louise Batts direct if you’d like to discuss anything about the article or programme

louisebatts21@gmail.com (07965214342)

Find out more information and donate to the crowdfunding campaign


Application & Programme information