Tech leader and entrepreneur to head STEM diversity panel

The CEO of one of Australia’s leading deep-tech incubators will lead a federal government independent panel of experts to improve STEM pathways for women.

Sally-Ann Williams (pictured) of Cicada Innovations was appointed to chair the panel for her recognition of the challenges faced by female entrepreneurs and the importance of diversity when designing technology.

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

Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic said the expert panel, which includes an award-winning biotechnologist and the founder of the first local Edu-tech company, will bring a wealth of experience to the task, providing recommendations and guidance.

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“The path to diversity in STEM overview is about helping to create equal opportunities for women and historically underrepresented groups to study and pursue careers in STEM, supporting them to reach their full potential and strengthening Australia’s STEM skills,” Minister Husic said.

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

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

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Other panel members are:

  • Dr Parwinder Kaur, an experienced biotechnologist, passionate science communicator and gender equality advocate working to close the gender gap in technology
  • Ms Mikaela Jade, a proud Kabrogal woman of the Dharug-speaking peoples, is passionate about sharing stories, technology and knowledge, including the importance of diversity in STEM, particularly First Nations voices
  • Acting Under-Secretary Narelle Luchetti will be an ex-officio member to provide expertise in the Australian Public Service and public policy development, as well as implementation and process expertise.

The Government also announced that Women in STEM Ambassador Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith will remain in the role for a further 12 months until November 2023 to carry out important research to support the review.

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

“He has been an outstanding leader in the STEM sector and will continue to provide expert advice and champion 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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