Women scientists at the forefront of science

Dr. Cathy Foley is Australia’s next Chief Scientist, replacing Dr. Alan Finkel who has held the position for the last five years. Dr. Foley had a 36 year career at the CSIRO as an Applied Physicist, with an emphasis on manufacturing and experience in scaling up operations.

Dr. Foley has advocated for more women in the science field for many years, particularly encouraging more women to study STEM subjects and working to improve conditions for women already in the field.

This position is extremely critical for two areas of science – climate change and COVID-19.

As Foley said when accepting the position ‘It’s a chance to serve the nation in a way that will allow science and technology to be able to assist the government in addressing the many challenges confronting us right now’.

‘It will also encourage the youth of today to appreciate that science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) are really a way forward to have careers that are exciting and well paid and will contribute to society’.


Krystal De Napoli is a  Monash student and research support assistant, a Kamilaroi woman from Wangaratta, who has come to understand the connection between indigenous knowledges and science in general. Krystal studied astrophysics at university and came to realise that traditions and the science that was part of them can be lost when a culture or opinion is allowed to dominate. She believes that the First Peoples can tell the rest of the world a great deal about ourselves and our precious world from the night skies.

Kirsten Banks is a Wiradjuri woman who has the role of Astronomy Educator at the Sydney Observatory and is a university graduate of UNSW. Krystal regularly speaks on radio and TV to schools and has her own podcast with fellow astronomer Angel Lopez-Sanchez called ‘The Skyentists’.

Karlie Noon is a Gamilaraay woman, and the first of her people to graduate with a double degree in maths and physics. Sydney Observatory has appointed her their first astronomy ambassador where she hopes to reach a wider audience. Over the next six months Karlie will present a series of programs exploring the planets, stars, and southern skies. Karlie is involved in a number of educational programs and brings an indigenous connection to the study of astronomy. Karlie has been awarded several prestige prizes involving STEM studies and has been named Women’s Agenda Emerging Leader in the Science, Medicine and Health award.

Carol Radford and Madeline Anderson are both offering Astrotourism tours in Western Australia, introducing tourists to shared stories of the Dreamtime which the First Peoples have recounted for thousands of years. These are star-gazing sessions introducing tourists and story telling with local indigenous elders, giving them a sense of belonging and connectedness to the world.

Carol Radford is the CEO and founder of Astrotourism WA. This company is planning to offer star gazing experiences at Yallalie Downs where people can study the Milky Way Galaxy and enjoy other star gazing experiences.

Madeleine Anderson is the Chairwoman of Beemurra Aboriginal Corporation and plans to launch astronomy tours from her home base, the Bandadagan farming property near Moora, WA.

Anderson is the Founder and Chairperson of U4C the Future – a not-for -profit organisation that provides a sound platform and engaging atmosphere to empower Aboriginal individuals and families within the community.

These strong confident women are creating a future for the next indigenous generation to learn from and hopefully follow.

Ref: Women’s Agenda

This article has been prepared for information purposes only and is not legal advice. For legal advice regarding your specific circumstances, please contact WR Law directly on (03) 5499 6131 or by email at admin@wrlaw.com.au

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