Seminar by Dr Cathy Foley -‘Women in Science’

Preceded by WiN-Australia Morning Tea

AINSE Auditorium

2013 NSW Woman of the Year

For the last 28 years, Cathy has been actively promoting the role of women in physics and science. Her determination to see women excel in the field has seen her form numerous groups including the AIP Women in Physics Group, Women in Superconductivity and Women in Science Enquiry Network. She has been the keynote speaker at the Women in Science and Engineering Symposium held at Parliament House in Canberra, she was President of the Australian Institute of Physics and Science and Technology Australia representing over 68,000 researchers, and she has served on several boards and advisory groups, including the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council.

It is impossible to sum up Cathy’s scientific achievements as they quite simply cannot be confined to one page. Her system for mineral exploration, LANDTEM, contributed to the detection of more than $6 billion worth of mines worldwide. She has boldly pursued ground-breaking research and ideas in all areas of science, winning not only numerous accolades but also the respect and admiration of her peers.

All of this from a woman who overheard a teacher in high school describe her as not being very good at maths. Dr Cathy Foley has proven that particular teacher wrong many times over. Her enthusiasm, professionalism, resourcefulness and pragmatism have made her an ideal role model for young women around Australia, especially in science where there are still relatively few women at the highest levels.

This powerhouse of science has not only been a trailblazer for women in her field, she also worked to ensure that there was enough childcare available in her community. She lobbied for government grants in order to build the Bradfield Park Child Care Centre in 1988. She also established after-school care at Beaumont Road Public School. She was an active member of Parents and Citizens Associations and School Councils. For this work, in 2006 she was recognised as the NSW Public School Parent of the Year.

Her work with young people and her community does not end at school. She has also well and truly earned her merit badge as a scout leader. Cathy started out as secretary of the parent committee for the North St Ives Scout group but since 2001 she has been a Joey Scout leader. More than 300 children have been in her group over the years and in 2007 she was honoured for her work with the scouts.

“Being a physicist has been rewarding, not only because it has enabled me to participate in all aspects of science research and its commercialisation and to witness the huge impact this has had on our society, but it has also allowed me to balance my work life with a happy family life and strong community involvement. It is becoming increasingly clear that the role of the workplace in creating the right environment for women is critical if we are to embrace the full human potential.”

Cathy has upended the science stereotype to become one of the most recognisable faces of science in Australia, paving the way for future generations of women in the field. She is proof positive that with hard work and resolve, anything is possible.
Dr Cathy Foley
Dr Cathy Foley was appointed Chief at CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering (CMSE) Division in April 2011 and highlights of her long career include leading the High Temperature Superconductivity (HTS) group in 1995, instigating CSIRO’s presence in quantum engineering in 2001, and developing the fabrication technology which is the basis of CSIRO’s successful HTS devices used in award-winning applications such as LANDTEM™ mineral exploration systems.

She has been awarded numerous distinctions throughout her career, including:

  • 2013 Premier’s Award for Woman of the Year
  • The AUSIMM Mineral Industry Operating Technique Award (MIOTA), 2011 for LANDTEM
  • The 2009 Telstra National and NSW Business Women of Year – Innovation award
  • The 2007–08 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) ‘Distinguished Lecturer’ award
  • The 2007 CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement, for LANDTEM.
  • The 2007 Macquarie University Alumni Award for Distinguished Service
  • Divisional awards in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2008
  • A Public Service Medal in the 2003 Australia Day Honours for service to physics and promotion of women in science
  • The 2003 Eureka Prize for the Promotion of Science.

She is a former President of the Australian Institute of Physics, and Chair of Science and Technology Australia, she currently serves on the Prime Minister’s Science Engineering and Innovation Council (PMSEIC) and the Bragg Institute Advisory Council at ANSTO.


Categories: Past Events