Businesswoman Kathryn Fagg is the new CSIRO chair


James Riley
Editorial Director

Freshly-minted Science and Technology minister Melissa Price has appointed Kathryn Fagg – one of Australia’s most experienced company directors – as chair of the national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Ms Fagg, a chemical engineer by training, has been appointed for a five-year term, stepping into the exceptionally large shoes of former chair David Thodey, whose term came to an end on Thursday.

It is a steady-as-she-goes appointment for the CSIRO, as Ms Fagg has served on the agency’s board for the past three years and has been deputy chair for the past 12 months.

Kathryn Fagg
CSIRO chair Kathryn Fagg AO

Current board member David Knox is the new CSIRO deputy chair, while former Industry minister Ian Macfarlane is a new board appointment, for a three-year term.

Ms Price’s office notes that the appointment marks the first time that three of the nation’s leading science agencies – the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and the CSIRO – have simultaneously been chaired by women.

Ms Fagg joins a growing list of appointments of senior women to senior STEM leadership roles in recent times. Aside from Ms Price’s own appointment as Minister for Science and Technology, there is the troika of chief scientists through the appointment of Professor Bronwyn Fox as CSIRO chief scientist, Professor Tanya Monro as Defence chief scientist, and Dr Cathy Foley as the Australian Government chief scientist.

Ms Fagg has worked in senior executive roles across a range of industries in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. She was a member of the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia from 2013 to 2018. Ms Fagg is also on the board of the National Australia Bank, the Myer Foundation and the Grattan Institute.

“Kathryn Fagg brings stability and maintains a strong direction for the CSIRO as the agency continues to play a pivotal role in our COVID-19 recovery and as we embrace science and technology to help chart our future prosperity,” Minister Price said.

“As a passionate advocate for gender equity, Ms Fagg is a women in STEM champion and a mentor for young women seeking to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics,” she said.

“Like me, the new chair and the other board members are committed to ensuring we use science – and the incredible work of our scientists – to help improve the lives of all Australians.

“I would like to thank David Thodey for his remarkable service and his personal and professional passion for embracing science to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.”

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