Maffra woman heading to Antarctica for camp

Dr Marie Clark is one of 79 Australian women chosen to go to Antarctica in February to promote women in science and understanding of climate change.
Dr Marie Clark is one of 79 Australian women chosen to go to Antarctica in February to promote women in science and understanding of climate change.

A MAFFRA woman with a passion for science has been selected as one of 79 women from around the world who will head to Antarctica in February for a three-week leadership camp that will highlight climate change and women in science.

Dr Marie Clark will be part of the Homeward Bound trip, with female colleagues from other continents who will work together to attempt to solve the world's problems with science and leadership.

The Maffra Secondary College science-maths teacher with a PhD in immunology said the Homeward Bound program appealed to her because it had the potential to result in "real action and leadership" in climate change.

The aim of the program is to heighten the influence and impact of women with a science background in order to influence policy and decision-making as it shapes the planet.

"As a teacher I have a strong interest in engaging girls in science, and as a scientist, I have a strong interest in climate change and other global issues," she said.

"This is a fantastic experience for women to be involved in things that matter, and be seen as science leaders."

All the participants in Homeward Bound have science backgrounds, and a desire to address some of the disadvantages faced by women in the science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) fields by generating a network of women who can support each other in creating change.

Dr Clark knows that she is among a committed minority of people in science making waves.

Although women make up 60 per cent of junior lecturers in science, at the top level of professors and researchers, only 16 per cent are female.

"There is something massively not right with that," she said.

"We know that diverse teams with an equal gender balance solve problems more effectively.

"And here we are faced with what is arguably humanity's biggest challenge of all climate change and women are just not at the leadership table."

Having grown up rurally and now living in Maffra, Dr Clark is passionate about increasing science engagement for rural students, particularly girls, to try to address the gender imbalance at ground level.

"My team at Maffra Secondary College work really hard to get female students engaged in science by running programs that increase opportunities for girls in STEMM fields."

Dr Clark lives what she preaches, and is a committed member of local groups in Gippsland working towards community owned renewable energy, such as Landcare and the Wellington Renewable Energy Network.

Although the trip to Antarctica is heavily subsidies, Dr Clark must raise at least $20,000 herself to cover the boat trip from Argentina.

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