A new partnership to advance diversity in the space sector

Tuesday 21 May 2024

We’re proud to be part of The Australian Space Diversity Alliance (ASDA), a new industry-wide group dedicated to promoting diversity in the space sector.

ASDA aims to support senior leaders and minimise the barriers that marginalised groups face. Its creation comes after a series of reports have shown the sector is lagging behind others in regard to gender disparity, and alongside a talent shortage critics say can only be overcome with a more diverse intake.

ASDA was founded by eight industry figures, including GIWL Deputy Director, Dr Elise Stephenson, Defence Council of Victoria’s Anntonette Dailey, ANU’s Dr Cassandra Steer, and Raytheon’s Linda Spurr.

“Statistics on diverse groups across a range of backgrounds are not necessarily measured in the space industry,” ASDA said.

“If we take women as a minority representative group as an example, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) identifies that women represent, on average, only 20 per cent of the international space industry.

“This figure has remained stagnant over the last 30 years. In Australia, women make up only 28 per cent of the workforce in science, technology, engineering, and math.

“The participation of women in the space sector in Australia is likely closer to 20 per cent, with other minority groups even lower, at less than 5 per cent.

“There is obvious room for improvement across all diversity groups.”

ASDA will partner with Aviation Aerospace Australia for the first two years and has launched a website here.

The group has also unveiled a logo, above, that symbolises the brand’s story around connectivity – based on the idea that “we come together to yarn about space”. It’s been designed by Ngarla woman Cathy Brown, an Aboriginal artist and photographer.

“This artwork depicts a yarning circle, a meeting place created for a collective of people to share their thoughts and ideas in a safe space where everybody is valued and heard,” ASDA said.

“Yarning circles are a key element of Aboriginal culture and have been used for thousands of years. Yarning circles bring people together to help build respectful and appreciative relationships.

“The keywords of space and diversity were chosen when creating this design. There is an inner ring of multicoloured U shapes depicting a diverse group of people coming together to yarn, they are being watched over by the moon and the stars.

“Some of the stars in the outer ring reflect the multicolours of the people to show the appreciation and support of diversity from the ancestors.”

A complete list of ASDA’s supporters and co-founders can be viewed at the bottom of this article.

It comes weeks after Defence Connect’s sister brand, Space Connect, reported how a landmark government report has concluded that there is “significant gender disparity and job insecurity” in STEM professions, with women far more likely to be in part-time or contract positions.

The STEM Career Pathways report, which you can read here, found only 58 per cent of women surveyed were on permanent full-time contracts, compared to 78 per cent of men.

The investigation was prepared by Science & Technology Australia and was significantly one of two released on the same day.

A second, Pathway to Diversity in STEM Review, also called for significant changes by organisations to increase participation from underrepresented groups.


ASDA co-founders:

  • Caz Craven, adviser and PhD student, the Australian Space Agency and Flinders University
  • Anntonette Dailey, Defence and Space Industry adviser, Defence Council of Victoria
  • Mei He, business development officer at Spiral Blue
  • Tiffany Sharp, director space research and development, Cambrian Executive
  • Linda Spurr, director leadership talent and culture, Raytheon Australia
  • Dr Cassandra Steer, deputy director - Mission Specialists, the Australian National University Institute for Space (InSpace)
  • Dr Elise Stephenson, deputy director, Global Institute for Women’s Leadership
  • Stephanie Wan, associate director, and space industry practice lead for Adelaide, KPMG


Founding ASDA supporters:

  • Defence Space Command
  • NSW government
  • Australian Capital Territory government
  • South Australian government
  • Queensland government
  • West Australian government
  • Australian Space Agency
  • iLAuNCH Trailblazer
  • The Write Space
  • Australian Centre for Space Governance
  • Media partners: Defence Connect, Space Connect, Australian Aviation, and CyberDaily


Updated:  21 May 2024/Responsible Officer:  Institute Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications