Australian Women in DC (AWDC) Launch Event | Monday, March 4 (5.30-8.00pm)
Australian Women in DC
Launching in 2024, Australian Women in DC (AWDC) is a forum built on the camaraderie and partnership of Australians and Americans to create and strengthen professional and social networks, showcase the diversity and strength of women’s contribution and leadership, with particular highlights on Australian’s contributions, investment and presence in Washington DC.
We operate on a not for profit basis with the support of the American Australian Association and in collaboration with the Australian Embassy.
Join us for our inaugural event launching AWDC and celebrating International Womens Day (IWD).
Flying Under the Radar - The Secret Role of Women in Intelligence
The story of women in intelligence is one of extraordinary leadership.
Ultra, the Allied signals intelligence project that tapped the highest levels of enemy encrypted communications, is credited with helping to shorten WWII by years. During the Cold War, signals was the most important source of intelligence for the United States and its allies and in today’s digital era, no less important. The Five Eyes intelligence partnership, established at the onset of the Cold War out of Allied signals cooperation in WWII, is the bedrock of the defence and security cooperation in the modern Australia-US alliance and the AUKUS relationship.
The historical significance, and success, of intelligence would not have been possible without women. However, their road to inclusion was not an easy one. Despite the structural and societal barriers, women found ways to become outstanding leaders in espionage, codebreaking, and sigint operations.
5:30 PM Registration
6:00 PM Program
Event Commencement & Introduction to AWDC
MC – Lisa Pettigrew
Welcome & Opening Remarks
His Excellency, the Hon Dr Kevin Rudd AC, Australian Ambassador to United States
Keynote Speaker & Panel
Clare Birgin – Visiting Fellow at Australian National University (ANU), Former Ambassador to six countries, former Liaison Officer for the Office of National Assessments, with a 30+ year career in Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, will speak on the extraordinary work of women and leadership in intelligence.
Clare will be joined by an esteemed panel for Q&A moderated by Nerida King, Congressional Branch, Australian Embassy
Closing Remarks & information on future AWDC events
MC – Lisa Pettigrew
7:30 PM Networking Drinks with Aussie-style hors d’oeuvres
8:00 PM Event close
Date & Time
Monday, March 4, 2024
5:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Program begins at 6:00 PM
Mon 26 February 2024
Spaces are limited. RSVP essential.
The Embassy of Australia
(The Julia Gillard Room)
1601 Massachusetts Avenue, NW,
Washington DC 20036
Photo ID required
Additional Event Information
Speakers and Panel
Clare Birgin, Visiting Fellow at Australian National University (ANU), had postings in Warsaw, Moscow, Geneva and Washington DC as Liaison Officer for the Office of National Assessments. Former Ambassador in Hungary, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Romania, Clare was awarded the Polish Government’s Knight Cross Medal and the Bene Merito Medal by the former Polish Foreign Minister.
Clare is also co-author of the recent book Revealing Secrets: An Unofficial History of Australian Signals Intelligence and the Advent of Cyber.
With a 30+ year career in Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, focusing on national security and intelligence, Clare will speak on the extraordinary work of women and leadership in intelligence.
Clare will be joined by an esteemed panel for discussion and Q&A.
Panel Moderator: Nerida King, Counsellor, Congressional Branch, Embassy of Australia
At our event we will hear stories about impressive heroines in the intelligence sector who played a role in shaping history and forging new ways of working. These talented women included America’s Ann Caracristi, who had a special talent for reconstructing enemy code books and became the first woman Deputy Director of the National Security Agency in 1980. Also, Australia’s Florence Violet Mackenzie, who anticipated the wartime need for women signallers, trained them herself and corresponded with Albert Einstein in her spare time. And Britain’s Emily Anderson, the Queen of Codes at the most senior level of British intelligence for nearly forty years, she led a parallel life as an internationally acclaimed musicologist and translator.
How did they do it? In ways difficult to quantify, the women exponentially improved intelligence. Diversity and inclusion helped the intelligence sector to imagine and understand all possible security risks and threats, to reduce ‘groupthink’ and continue to crack the ‘unbreakable’ codes.
Additional Reading & Resources
Revealing Secrets: An Unofficial History of Australian Signals Intelligence and the Advent of Cyber Clare Birgin & Dr John Blaxland
The Factory: The Official History of the Australian Signals Directorate, Vol 1 Dr John Fahey
The Garage Girls