Sudbury

Destination Antarctica for Tammy Eger in drive to recruit women into STEMM fields

Ultimate goal for Homeward Bound program is to encourage more women into the STEMM disciplines

Posted: November 13, 2019

Tammy Eger is part of a cohort of 100 women from around the world who will soon voyage to Antarctica. (Supplied by Tammy Eger)

Tammy Eger of Sudbury is just a few days from joining 99 other women from around the world, on a voyage to Antarctica.

The Laurentian University professor is part of the latest cohort to be part of the international Homeward Bound program. That involves leadership training for 100 women who work in the STEMM disciplines: science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

The participants, from 35 different countries, have been working over the past year to prepare for the voyage to the southernmost continent, regularly meeting online to learn from each other and creating a global network.

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Over a ten year period, Homeward Bound plans to recruit and train 1,000 women, with 100 in each yearly cohort.

Eger is part of the fourth cohort of the program. She is a professor of human kinetics and is the research chair for occupational health and safety at Laurentian University in Sudbury.

"The idea is to create this international network where collectively we can work together to solve some of the key scientific problems facing the world," she said.

"But also to advocate for more women to advance into leadership positions and also to look at under represented groups in the STEMM disciplines."

Eger says she's most looking forward to finally meeting the other women in person, but also is looking forward to experiencing earth's most southernmost continent.

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"Having the ability to step foot on Antarctica," she said. "Just to see the beauty and also sort of the fragility of what's happening with climate change to that particular area of the world, as well."

"And realizing just the small, small dot we are, in a sense, as people, and that we all have a role to play in trying to address some of the challenges around climate change and climate crisis that we're facing."

The ultimate goal for the Homeward Bound program is to encourage more women into the STEMM disciplines, as well as to pursue leadership roles.

"We all have the ability to, even in a small way, hopefully serve as a role model," Eger said.

"So if there's other women or young girls thinking about what could they do in the STEMM disciplines, that maybe they'll look and see that there are some women in their community, other women in Canada, and then around the world."

But Eger says there are challenges and barriers in the system that need to be addressed to help keep women in these fields.

"When we think about movement from assistant to associate or full professor and then into leadership positions women are leaving the discipline and they're not pursuing those careers for many different reasons."

She wants to see career environments be more inviting and welcoming so that women will stay in the STEMM disciplines.

Eger will fly to Argentina on Friday, where she will spend a few days with the other women in the cohort, before they board a ship to journey to Antarctica.

To follow the adventure you can check out the Homeward Bound social media accounts.

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Laurentian University professor Tammy Eger has spent the past year preparing for a big trip to Antarctica...with a special leadership program for women. She joined us in studio to tell us more...  8:01

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angela Gemmill
Journalist

Angela Gemmill is a CBC journalist who has covered news in Sudbury, Ont., for 14 years. Connect with her on Twitter @AngelaGemmill. Send story ideas to angela.gemmill@cbc.ca