Leadership among the icebergs

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Thursday, 11 May 2017 |

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Sarah Conolly, Senior Underground Mine Geologist at Gold Fields’ Agnew mine in Australia, was one of 76 female scientists chosen for Homeward Bound’s inaugural journey to the Antarctic in December 2016. This initiative aims to increase the influence and impact of women with a science background in policies and decisions shaping our planet.

For 19 days, the scientists delved into leadership, strategy and science topics. They also visited two Antarctic research stations studying the impact of climate change on animal populations.

“Homeward Bound aims to help address the gender imbalance in top roles in science, technology, engineering and maths, in both academia and industry. The choice of Antarctica was deliberate, encouraging us to proactively contribute to a more sustainable world,” she says.

Sarah adds that the experience has made her more aware of needing to balance the value of robust economies and advancement of society with the future of a healthy planet. “Working in the resources industry, I believe it is important for people from all backgrounds to be involved in the conversation about sustainability and climate science. The reality is that we need resources for society to progress, particularly in the developing world. However, balance is needed and the responsibility lies with us to mine with as little environmental impact as possible.”

How does she believe the role of women in her field has changed? “I have always felt very supported in my roles in mining, but in my experience the teams I’ve worked in with a roughly equal gender split have been the most effective”.

“Geology is one of the disciplines within mining that is leading the way in gender diversity. However, I am yet to work for a female manager.  Sometimes it is hard to imagine yourself in one of the senior management roles when you haven’t seen anyone like you do it before. Of course, times have changed in the last 10 years, and there shall be a lag for the women to filter through those levels, but I’m hoping they will. It’s time. If mining can play a small part in working towards gender equality on a wider scale, that is something we should be proud of.” 

Visit for more about this initiative.

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