Fabian Dattner, Founder and CEO of Homeward Bound Project – Interview
ACCIONA is a global company, a leader in providing regenerative solutions for a decarbonized economy. Its business offer includes renewable energies, water treatment and management, eco-efficient transport and mobility systems, resilient infrastructures, etc. The company has been carbon neutral since 2016 and is present in more than 60 countries. We spoke to Fabian Dattner, Founder of Homeward Bound at the Spanish Pavilion of the EXPO2020 to learn more about the Homeward Bound Project, climate change, and STEMM careers for women.
Tell us what is Homeward Bound Project about?
I founded Homeward Bound in 2015 with the objective to promote the leadership of women in STEMM. This project aims to build, in a decade, a network of 10,000 women working together across the Planet for a shared future.
Homeward Bound is a 12-month program with online content and collaborative learning, centered on four pillars: leadership, strategy, communication, and science. This year marks the seventh edition of the program. Before the pandemic, the program culminated in a three-week trip expedition to Antarctica, where the participating women observed firsthand the impact of human activity on the frozen continent.
By bringing female scientists together, Homeward Bound aims to create a network of women with the skills and will to create a more sustainable future. The goal of the program is to forge personal and professional bonds between the participants, enrich teamwork, and generate new initiatives to advance real solutions to some of the most pressing global concerns.
How is ACCIONA involved and what does it offer to the project?
ACCIONA, a global pioneer in sustainable solutions for energy and infrastructure, is a strategic partner of Homeward Bound, as the two organizations have found common cause in a commitment to women’s contribution in our world today.
ACCIONA sponsors the Homeward Bound project since its second edition in 2018, supporting at the beginning the team of Spanish scientists and immediately extending it internationally, to fight together to place women and science in decision-making positions to achieve a more sustainable planet.
The objectives of the project are aligned with ACCIONA’s vision. The mitigation of climate change, the promotion of STEM disciplines, and the role of women in society are part of the company’s values.
Getting more women involved in STEMMS careers (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and Medicine) is a key priority for ACCIONA, the Homeward Bound project, and many national governments.
For Homeward Bound is wonderful to be together with ACCIONA and we are truly lucky to have them as strategic partners globally.
Where does Homeward Bound stand today?
To date, Homeward Bound has brought together women from more than 56 nationalities and 46 scientists in a mentorship program that aims to hone their leadership, skills, visibility, and global networking. It is now a fully-fledged not for profit, with over 600 women in STEMM globally who are part of the network. They work together in large and small teams towards a more sustainable planet.
How was the Homeward Bound launch here in the Middle East?
ACCIONA organized a round table session in Dubai to present the Homeward Bound project, at the Spanish Pavilion of the EXPO 2020 on Friday 11th of February to mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The roundtable session in Dubai brought together Fabian Dattner, Homeward Bound Project Founder; Lourdes Vega, Director of the Research and Innovation Center on CO2 and Hydrogen (RICH Center) in Khalifa University and Marta Fernández Fernández, Chief Experience Officer of JUMIA, an e-commerce group.
The event was attended by high school students from Sunmarke School of Dubai and from Khalifa University.
Why do you think is important to present Homeward Bound here in the Middle East?
The UAE is also committed to decarbonizing its economy. It was the first country in the Middle East to commit to reducing carbon emissions to net-zero by mid-century. As I said, getting more women involved in STEMM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is a key priority not only for ACCIONA or for the Homeward Bound project; also many national governments have this in their agendas. According to UNESCO, only 28% of the world’s researchers are women. In the Middle East, the participation of women in STEM subjects is higher than the global average, and in countries such as UAE and Saudi Arabia, 60% of science graduates are women. However, social and cultural norms mean that few female science graduates go on to have careers in their subjects.
We would love to see a significant representation of women from the Middle East participating in future Homeward Bound cohorts.