It was a banner day for gender equality as this year’s King’s Birthday Honours List bestowed awards on more women than men for the first time – including a range of women honoured for their contributions to ICT and other STEM-related industries.
The list – which included 920 award recipients including 6 Companions of the Order (AC), 46 Officers of the Order (AO), 246 Members of the Order (AM) and 622 Medal of the Order of Australia recipients (OAM) – included tech and business luminaries like Pia Turcinov AM, a Perth-based career board member, advisor, STEM advocate, venture capitalist who was recognised “for significant service to technology and innovation, and to women in STEM”.
Turcinov – whose extensive CV includes roles with the likes of Edith Cowan University, the University of Western Australia and Landgate – has variously been a co-founder and director of women-focused VC firm VentureX HQ, ambassador and chair of Women in Technology WA (WiTWA), chair of the WA AustCyber Innovation Hub’s Industry Advisory Board, non-executive director of edge AI firm BrainChip, and more.
“Being included in this fantastic group of scientists, authors, change-makers, role models, creative minds, and community leaders… is an absolute privilege and has given me pause to reflect on many things,” Turcinov wrote after the awards were announced.
“Having arrived in WA 25 years ago knowing literally only a handful of people, it’s an absolute privilege to now be part of such a vibrant, vocal, and energetic community,” she wrote, summing up her experiences in one morsel of advice.
“Stop waiting for permission to be you,” she said. “There comes a point in time when you stop waiting for someone to give you permission to act, but rather you realise you need to speak up, be brave, and be bold.”
Also recognised was Lurline Archay OAM, who for 45 years served as director of Park Lane Information Technology Pty Ltd – a Melbourne-based data management specialist firm that she founded in 1975 as a database technology specialist, and grew into a provider of service management, data analytics, cloud enablement, software development, strategic and technical advisory services.
University of Western Australia (UWA) Emeritus Professor Robyn Owens AM – a world-renowned mathematician whose work in fundamental computer vision helped advance the state-of-the-art in feature detection, 3D shape measurement, image understanding and representation – was also recognised in the list “for significant service to science in the fields of computer vision and mathematics”.
UWA Professor Warren Harding AM, a long-term management and government policy advisor across energy, mining, utilities, resources and government sectors whose previous roles include leading Deloitte’s East Asia technology practice and managing PwC’s enterprise APAC practice, was also recognised.
RAAF technologist Warrant Officer Geoffrey Neil Armstrong AM was recognised in the military division for applying what the citation called his “remarkable technical knowledge” to produce systems for improving personnel and capability management; improving reporting; reducing workload for personnel managers; and allowing Commanders “to make superior decisions in reduced timeframes.”
A strong showing for STEM leaders
The annual list recognised the achievements of what Governor-General David Hurley called an “uplifting” cohort that “spans almost every field of endeavour imaginable”.
The breadth and depth of the expertise on the list “makes me enormously optimistic for our country,” Hurley said.
“Collectively they speak to who we are now and who we can be in the future.”
Highlighting the contributions being made every day by STEM leaders, the list includes a strong showing by scientists, STEM educators, medical and other innovators including:
• Dr Charles Roger Badham, NSW. For service to science as a meteorologist.
• Ms Donna Burton, NSW. For service to science, particularly astronomy.
• Professor David Craik, QLD. For distinguished service to science in the field of biological and medicinal chemistry, to tertiary education, and as a mentor.
• Mr Matthew Bryan Higgins, QLD. For outstanding public service to Queensland with international impact in the fields of surveying, geodesy and spatial sciences.
• Dr Misty Rayna Jenkins, VIC. For distinguished service to medical science as an immunologist, to the promotion of women in STEM, and to the Indigenous community.
• Clinical Professor Brendon John Kearney AM, SA. For distinguished service to medicine in the fields of health technology assessment and health outcomes research.
• Emeritus Professor Peter Langrisdge, SA. For significant service to science in the field of plant genomics and agriculture.
• Dr Anna Lavelle, VIC. For significant service to science and innovation through a range of roles.
• Professor Alice Pébay, VIC. For significant service to science, particularly through stem cell and neuroscience research.
• Dr Michael James Pyne, QLD. For service to veterinary science.
• Distinguished Professor Sharon Robinson, NSW. For significant service to science, particularly the study of Antarctic environmental change.
• Professor Renae Monique Ryan, NSW. For significant service to biomedical science as a researcher, and to diversity and inclusion.
• Mr Christopher Charles Vonwiller, NSW. For significant service to science and technology development.
• Dr Julia Patricia Vonwiller, NSW. For significant service to science and technology development.
• Emeritus Professor Phil Mary Waite, TAS. For significant service to medical science, and to tertiary education.
• Emeritus Professor Josephine Anne Ward, WA. For significant service to tertiary education, and to science.