MI OLA is going to Antarctica!

Almost four years ago, we started the MI OLA Brand Ambassador Program for women who lead healthy, active lifestyles and #GetOutThere. We are so proud of how the program has developed to include active women from around the world. We love our ambassadors as much as they love us. And we are so proud for one of our (original!) ambassadors Ellen Moon (@artemis_eleven).

Ellen is headed to Antarctica next month as part of an awesome scientific research and leadership program called Homeward Bound. Pretty amazing. We can’t wait to follow Ellen during her journey and see photos.  To prep us all for her journey and learn why scientific research in Antarctica is so important, check out Ellen’s blog post below!


Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Ellen- @artemis_eleven


MI OLA is going to Antarctica!

In one month, I will set sail as part of the largest ever all-female voyage to Antarctica. During our 23 days sailing around the Antarctic Peninsula, 80 female scientists from all over the world will learn about leadership, strategy and science communication as part of the Homeward Bound initiative. When we return to our day jobs we will be better equipped to influence environmental policy in our countries, and help address the lack of female leaders in science and politics.

admiring the glacier at charlottes bay

Photo courtesy Homeward Bound

So….a bit more about Homeward Bound and why I wanted to be a part of it:

In my spare time I love to be in the water – surfing, snorkeling and trying to improve my underwater photography skills. It was this passion for the ocean, and protecting the natural environment, that inspired me to become a scientist. I’m a geochemist (meaning I study the chemistry of the Earth), and my day job involves devising ways to clean up soils and natural waters that are contaminated with heavy metals. I also work at a university teaching undergraduate students and train the next generation of researchers in the art of scientific research.


Photo by Girish Choppala of  MI OLA Ambassador Ellen- @artemis_eleven

Throughout my 10 years in science it has been obvious that there are a lack of women in senior positions in science. In the US, UK and Australia, only 17-19% are women at the professorial level. But this doesn’t just happen in science. If you look to the senior levels of any industry, the levels where the big decisions get made, you find a dearth of women. Only 20 % of the United States Congress are women. Only 6 % of Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs. In Australia, where I live, there are there are fewer women in top roles in our biggest 200 companies than there are men called John….or Peter or David.

This is a problem because research consistently show that diverse leadership groups make better decisions, not only because of the influx of new perspectives, but because diverse groups consider available information more thoroughly and more critically. We have evidence of this right here with Helena, the founder and CEO of MI OLA  — I doubt you’ve ever worn a swimsuit that fits you so well, and meets your needs as well, as a MI OLA suit that was designed by an active woman for active women. Women are the world’s untapped resource!

Like many scientists I’m deeply concerned by the inaction of our governments when it comes to climate change and environmental protection. I couldn’t help but wonder if we had more scientific women in those top positions, influencing policy, would we have made more progress by now? As the old adage goes, if you want something done, do it yourself! But I didn’t really know how to go about it.


Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Ellen- @artemis_eleven

So, at this time last year I came across the Homeward Bound initiative – a year-long development program specifically for women in science and I set about applying. To my great surprise, I was selected from hundreds of applicants around the world to take part, joining a team comprised of other earth scientists, as well as doctors, vets, sociologists, teachers, and even a navy pilot!


The program started last March, and since then we’ve had monthly online seminars where we’ve worked on the four main learning areas: leadership, strategy, visibility and science communication. We’ve delved into our own thinking and learning styles to understand how to make better decisions and quell the voice of doubt so many women hear in their minds. We’ve teamed up with other participants to explore cutting-edge research into the biggest environmental challenges we face. And we’ve been encouraged out of our comfort zones to raise the visibility of the program, ourselves and our science by talking to the media.


Photo courtesy Homeward Bound


The program culminates in the Antarctic voyage in February 2018, where we’ll combine daily onboard learning sessions with landings at key locations with geological and biodiversity significance. Antarctica is symbolic of the two main themes of Homeward Bound: firstly, areas of Antarctica are demonstrating the most rapid response to climate change. Secondly, it is representative of the struggle for equality by women in science. As recently as the 1990s, female scientists were still prevented from over-wintering in Antarctica.

Monica Araya photo of Ushuaia mini

Photo courtesy Homeward Bound

As well as (finally!) meeting the other 79 women in person rather than online, I’m most looking forward to the immersive learning experience in such an inspirational setting. To think that we’ll be able to step foot in some of the same places as the adventurers of the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration, like Scott and Shackleton, is particularly exciting for me. Of course, I’m looking forward to seeing the Antarctic wildlife – whales, seals and especially the penguins. And I wouldn’t be a true MI OLA ambassador unless I took a swimsuit with me, so keep an eye out for the first #MIOLAinAntarctica posts!


Photo courtesy Homeward Bound

Seriously though, I firmly believe that programs like Homeward Bound, that teach women the leadership and strategy skills that they’ll need to carve their own path to the top, are the way forward in the push for gender equity. If what you’ve read here resonates with you I’d really appreciate you sponsoring my participation by heading to https://chuffed.org/project/100-days-to-Antarctica. The total cost of the program is US$20,000 – I’ve self-funded $15,000 and am hoping to raise the final US$5,000/AU$7,500 with your assistance. Every dollar helps, and there are some great perks to be had in exchange for sponsorship. Thank you!


Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?

Know of anyone who should #GetOutThere with us?

Then shoot us an email at info@MI-OLA.com