this week , Australian Space Summit We celebrate some of our nation’s strengths and achievements in the space sector. But it is happening against the background of deep cuts in investment in space technology Announced in the federal budget last week.
Space technologies play a critical role in responding to many national priorities, such as resilience to climate and disasters, connecting regional Australians, contributing to regional security and driving economic growth. However, the sector suffers from a branding problem – most people think of rockets and astronauts, rather than the satellites we depend on globally.
This leads to a misunderstanding in the government of the importance space technologies for the issues we seek to solve. It also makes it difficult to recruit talented people in the field.
So how do we find enough people with the skills to grow this important technology sector?
Why diversity and inclusion matter
The answer is to give new priority to recruiting and expanding talent diversity and inclusiveness in the space sector.
The space sector needs workers from all different backgrounds and disciplines, but it struggles to attract a diverse pool of talent. This is due to the misconception that space only provides STEM-related jobs, as well as the overwhelmingly men-and-whites make-up. The space industry, government, and academia.
This affects not only the workforce pipeline, but also the financing of the sector, due to the limited visibility of the kinds of solutions the space sector can provide to society’s biggest challenges.
This is a pressing public relations issue for the space sector. It needs to rethink how it markets itself to the public to recruit for a myriad of positions in areas such as space law, politics, technology governance, social anthropology, archaeology, business, arts, communications, and more.
The sector also needs to make diversity a priority. currently only One in five employees in the space industry are women. First Nations Australians also remain marginalized, despite the fact that the majority of the terrestrial infrastructure for space systems is in Aboriginal lands.
We need greater inclusivity of the perspectives of people of different races, sexual orientations, ethnic and language backgrounds, as well as people with disabilities. Research shows that diverse and inclusive groups lead to greater Trust, democracy and innovationless “groupthink”, more positive work environments and greater employee retention.
In addition, greater diversity can make it easier to tell the story of the importance of space technologies to society. This would help in terms of government funding and the ability of the industry to break its weight globally.
National Conference on Diversity in Space
Last month, we brought together more than 200 experts from the space industry, government, academia, and society to discuss these issues for the first time ever. National Conference on Gender Equality and Diversity in Space.
Participants agreed that diversity is an opportunity that the space industry misses. Many of the challenges facing the sector can be addressed by hiring from a more diverse talent pool and ensuring diverse perspectives Incorporating technology and solutions into design.
These are some of our main recommendations:
(1) Improve workplace conditions and enact informal networks
Policy changes can help with diverse hiring, such as addressing poor organizational cultures, introducing fair leave policies and improving existing promotion and hiring policies.
But informal networks are also important. There are networks for women in space in different countries such as United State And New Zealand, which has proven important in developing a more diverse workforce. The new Women in Space network is Soon in Australia.
(2) Don’t just rant about diversity
Diversity must be placed at the heart of programs and policies both in the space sector and in governments at the federal and state/territorial levels. The space sector must also do a better job of explaining the importance of its work government agencies.
(iii) Establishing diversified procurement policies
This includes minimum goals to support women-owned and First Nations-owned enterprises in the space sector and giving preference to space companies that show improvements in diversity in their workforce.
Australia risks being left behind
In 2025, Australia will host International Astronautical Conferencethe largest annual conference for space industry In the world. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate our leadership in promoting a value-based, diverse, equitable and sustainable space sector.
However, without concrete action now, the Australian space sector is at risk of falling further behind our international peers.
The Australian Space Agency is currently working with a number of organisations, including Global Institute for Women’s Leadershipthe ANU Aerospace Institute and the Australian Center for Space GovernanceTo develop our own diversification policy in the space sector.
This is a step in the right direction, especially in the wake of the recent budget. But the industry also needs to increase transparency of data on diversity, as well as concrete commitments and actions.
To this end, we are conducting research on improving diversity in the space sector. We invite anyone in government, industry and academic roles to join us Participate in the survey To describe their experiences of inclusion, diversity, equality, and access to their jobs. These inputs will contribute to Australia’s statement on diversity and inclusion in the space sector.
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