Tech leaders and entrepreneurs to head STEM diversity panel

Tech leaders and entrepreneurs to head STEM diversity panel

The CEO of one of Australia’s pioneering deep tech incubators will lead the federal government’s independent expert review panel into improving STEM pathways for women.

Sally-Ann Williams (pictured) from Cicada Innovations has been appointed chair of the panel for her awareness of the challenges female entrepreneurs face, and the importance of diversity when designing technology.

The review into increasing the number of women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics sectors and boosting diversity was announced earlier this year.

The Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic said the expert panel, which also includes an award-winning biotechnologist and the founder of the first Indigenous Edu-tech company, would bring a wide range of experience to the task, and offer recommendations and guidance.

“The Pathway to Diversity in STEM review is about helping to create equal opportunities for women and historically under-represented groups to pursue education and careers in STEM, supporting them to unlock their full potential, and bolstering Australia’s STEM skills pipeline,” Minister Husic said. .

“STEM communities that are diverse, inclusive and collaborative are crucial to meeting the challenges of the future and maximizing the nation’s potential.

“It also makes good business sense – studies have found firms with diverse workforces perform better.”

Other panel members are:

  • Dr Parwinder Kaur, an experienced biotechnologist, passionate science communicator and an advocate for gender equity, who is working to close the gender gap in technology
  • Ms Mikaela Jade, a proud Cabrogal woman of the Dharug-speaking nations, passionate about storytelling, technology and knowledge-sharing including the importance of diversity in STEM, particularly by including First Nations voices.
  • Acting Deputy Secretary Narelle Luchetti will be the ex-officio member, bringing experience in the Australian Public Service and public policy development, as well as implementation and process expertise to the review.

The government also announced its Women in STEM Ambassador, Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, will stay in the role for a further 12 months to November 2023 in order to undertake important research to support the review.

“Professor Harvey-Smith will provide an important contribution to our next steps to improve diversity in STEM, which I know she is very passionate about,” Minister Husic said.

“She has been an excellent leader within the STEM sector and will continue to provide expert advice and advocate the case for change.

“In doing so, she will continue to be a visible role model to encourage girls and women to enter STEM education and careers.”

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