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We were part of a group of 77 women travelling by ship to an Antarctic research station when our route was blocked by icebergs. We had to make a decision. Should we detour into rough open ocean to reach the target site, or abandon plans to visit Rothera Research Station and settle instead for a few days of exploring Antarctica's calmer, protected waters? This is the story of "Rothera-gate", a leadership development experience on the largest all-female expedition to Antarctica. The 2018 expedition was the culmination of a year-long strategic leadership initiative for women scientists called Homeward Bound. Men typically hold the leadership positions in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine). In recognition of this, the Homeward Bound initiative works with women in science to enhance their opportunity to take up leadership roles globally, and contribute proactively to a sustainable world.