Two University of Sydney academics to advise Government

Professor Rae Cooper AO

Professor Rae Cooper AO

The Australian Government has selected two University of Sydney academics to advise on national taskforces, recognising their expertise in gender equality and quantum computing respectively.

Professor Rae Cooper AO, Director of the University of Sydney’s Gender Equality in Working Life Research Initiative (GEWL), is one of 12 eminent women appointed to the federal government’s Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce, tasked with advising the government on the many issues facing women in the Australian economy.

Professor Michael J. Biercuk, Director of the University of Sydney’s Quantum Control Laboratory , has been selected to join the federal government’s National Quantum Advisory Committee - a group of 15 experts, chaired by Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley AO, called on to guide the National Quantum Strategy which will outline the country’s vision for the industry and drive growth.

Professor Biercuk brings with him a wealth of knowledge about the quantum field. In the University’s quantum laboratory, part of the  ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems , his team operates the southern hemisphere’s highest-performance quantum computer. He is also CEO and founder of  Q-CTRL , Australia’s first venture-capital-backed quantum technology company, which is making quantum technology useful by developing performance-enhancing infrastructure software.

The Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic MP, announced the quantum committee’s formation during a speech at the Pearcey Oration in Melbourne and has placed emphasis on maintaining Australia’s competitive advantage in the quantum field.

CSIRO projections indicate Australia’s share of the quantum industry, which globally may be worth at least $86 billion by 2040, could create a $4 billion revenue stream and 16,000 jobs by that milestone.

A professor of gender, work and employment relations in the University of Sydney Business School, Professor Cooper has significant experience working with various levels of government in relation to the drivers of participation and decent work for women. 

"I’ve worked on providing evidence-informed policy advice to ministers and key departments over the years. Recently, together with my GEWL colleague Professor Elizabeth Hill, I have convened meetings with government stakeholders on urgent issues like gender equality in industrial relations and early childhood education and care workforce issues," Professor Cooper said.

"I have also worked with colleagues on rapid reviews of evidence and commissioned research for government departments. I’ve played a leadership role on boards and committees at the state and federal government level in human services, education and in women’s policy."

Professor Cooper said she’s looking forward to working closely with the Minister for Women and Minister for Finance, Senator Katy Gallagher, and other members of the taskforce, who bring an array of industry, community, union and think tank experience.

I’m hoping to bring the university and academic voice to the work, and to use my expertise to advise government on strategies to improve women’s economic independence and equality.

"Together we are keen to understand strategies government might put in place that will benefit women and particular groups of women in their engagement in work and economic activity.

"My key concern is to use the research evidence about the barriers and enablers for flourishing careers for women to the table - this is critical now in the context of an extremely unequal labour market and a very highly educated female labour force.

"Government has significant levers at its disposal, and this is a great opportunity, especially in the early days of a new federal Albanese government, to contribute to thinking and hopefully to action. It is rather refreshing to be ’back at the table’ with government and ministers seeking to hear evidence-informed arguments for change."

After the federal government announced budget stimulus that prioritised male-dominated industries, new research from the University of Sydney reveals women already working in those sectors are experiencing a pernicious problem: gender harassment.

The Gender Equality in Working Life (GEWL) Research Initiative is a multidisciplinary research initiative leveraging research expertise on women’s working lives to establish an action-oriented, practical approach to building a gender equal future of work.


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