September 28, 2020

Women in Data: An Expanded Benefit

Luke Farrugia
Luke Farrugia Head of Marketing

Business challenge:

Equality and Diversity
Women in data

When we talk about ‘Women in Data’, or alternatively, the LACK of ‘Women in Data’, the conversation is generally centred around the fact that women remain underrepresented in most data science/analytics jobs.

This is of course, an incredibly important conversation to be having, as the disparity between women and men in the data world remains significant. The Alan Turing Institute found that while women make up 47% of the work force in the UK, they hold less than 17% of all available tech jobs. Not only are there less women to begin with, they leave their data based jobs at an extraordinarily high rate, with 56% of women in tech companies leaving their organisations at the mid-career point, and 51% of these women leaving the industry altogether. The numbers reveal why it’s important to talk about ‘Women in Data’ with the particular intent of increasing their presence – however, the conversation can be expanded.

While it is important to ask questions about how we can get more women into the fields of data science and analytics, we also stand to benefit from further interrogating how having more women visibly in data science ultimately brings more women in contact with data in a broader sense. From using data in non-related jobs and projects, to participating in a hackathon for fun, seeing women in data encouraged women, even who won’t go into the field, to use and engage with the world of data. There are many contact points where women, and the data world, could stand to benefit from a closer relationship.

With this in mind, we have asked three women, members of Lean Further, all with different levels of experience in data, to share some of their thoughts on the field and subject in general – where best to identify how to improve women’s access to the field than to get first hand experiences.

Andrea Solis, Simran Bal, and myself (Kristine Baekgaard) – are all very different when it comes to their experience with data.

Andrea Solis, Kristine Baekgaard and Simran Bal, Co-Founders at Lean Further

Simran already works in data analytics and is building her career in the field with excitement. Simran, currently working for SalesForce, and loves the problem-solving aspect of the job:

‘I enjoy helping others to better understand and draw conclusions from their data. Simply presenting the data in a different way can encourage people to ask questions and discover the root of a problem. With a better understanding of the problem, it becomes easier to come up with creative solutions.’

Simran Bal – Co Founder at Lean Further and Sales Strategy and Operations Trainee at Salesforce

Andrea, though not currently working in data science specifically, has some self-taught experience, having been inspired to dig deeper into data on her own:

‘I have been teaching myself how to use software like Tableau to apply to various university projects but I only truly saw the power of data when I saw it applied to projects outside of university. On once instance, I was working on a project for a data visualisation for London Fashion Week and the data scrapping tool that we developed to find trends on social media for what were the most common terms each year was just barely scraping the surface of what data itself could allow us to identify and the stories we could tell with it. Likewise, the trends that data could show us, and the stories it could tell are embedded everywhere. From the most popular times that people go on social media, to making traffic lights more efficient. The more I learn about data, the more I realise how it can make our lives a lot more interesting and better, as long as we use it correctly’.

And me, well, the experience I have in data is so minimal it is statistically insignificant. Like Andrea, I had tried my hand at the software Tableau, but only with step by step instructions from the university course it was part of (a course where data science was not the focus). But I have often wished that data had been a more integrated part of my education, as I felt there are many situations where it would have helped me to illustrate my point better, or helped me to understand a problem in a different way. Particularly when I was writing my dissertation, I wanted for the skill. I felt that what I was writing about was so important, and I wished that I could have leveraged data to illustrate the magnitude of my point, to make clear that what I was talking about was a bigger issue. The closest I came was making a two-columned table representing how many times a few different variables appeared in the text I was analysing. I was still proud of my dissertation, and I don’t think that it needed more numeric data – but it would have been an additional layer of understanding to add in.

For Andrea and I, having more visible women in data, would potentially have increased our contact with data during our degree. Andrea mentioned:

‘I wish I had seen more female representation in data as I was embarking in my university degree. I did not learn enough about the tools that would be relevant or did not have female role models to suggest experimenting more with it. I learnt more about it during internships and speaking to a few people that chose to explore that career path.’

Andrea Solis – Co Founder at Lean Further and Analyst at Perella Weinberg Partners

I echo her thoughts, and want to add that it is important for companies and organisations to amplify the voices of these women (particularly different women from different backgrounds). While I personally probably still would not have gone into the data science field – hearing about how women are using data, and what they are doing with their careers – expands your own frame of mind for what you can do with data.

Another important tool for improving contact points with data, is creating opportunities for engagement that are accessible and made for learning, such as the TrueCue Women in Data Hackathon. By allowing women the chance to work hands on with data, particularly those who have no experience to begin with, more women are able to gain experience, and ultimately apply those skills in real life. This is one of the reasons Andrea, the founder of Lean Further (which aims to empower women in all fields), is so excited to be part of this project:

‘I truly hope that more girls are encouraged to explore this and I am therefore proud to be partnering with Lean Further and TrueCue on this Hackathon to educate more women in working with data and spark creativity on how it can be used.’

Andrea Solis – Co Founder at Lean Further and Analyst at Perella Weinberg Partners

In addition to partnering with TrueCue on this amazing project, we at Lean Further are also trying to make the women in data in our network more visible, and by doing so, sparking questions and curiosity about the field. Simran, is now a Woman in Data, and has shared some advice on how to break into the field (though of course the Hackathon is a good place to start).

Simran advises: ‘Reach out to members of your network who are currently working in tech. Gain industry-specific knowledge by asking them questions about the reality of their role. If you don’t have any friends or colleagues in the industry, join groups and attend events where people in the tech community share their experiences. Participate in hackathons, create your own project or make use of free online resources to hone your technical skills.’

Bringing more women into the data space is such an incredible mission, and we are so proud to be working with TrueCue.

Please feel free to reach out to us on our Instagram page @lean_further, LinkedIn or Facebook if you have any questions at all on anything related to data or any other career you may be considering.

TrueCue Women in Data Hackathon in partnership with Lean Further

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Lean Further is an association founded in 2020 by current students and alumni of the London School of Economics and Political Science. We aim to create and uphold a network of like-minded ambitious women who are inspired to support and empower each other, by facilitating mentorship as well as friendship.

Our members have experience with a wide range of industries and companies such as McKinsey, Amazon, Salesforce, JP Morgan, Google, Deloitte, Boston Consulting Group, L’Oréal, and much more: our goal is to welcome women with as wide a range of paths and industries as possible. There is no typical profile of the Lean Further woman, beyond the core qualities of ambition, drive and willingness to give back.

Business challenge:

Equality and Diversity
Women in data
Luke Farrugia
Written by Luke Farrugia Head of Marketing

Luke is the Head of all things marketing at TrueCue. With an eclectic track record in planning and implementing comprehensive B2B and B2C growth marketing strategy, across a multitude of industries, including tech, music, travel and education, Luke loves supporting the analytics community with good information, good data and the capacity to derive good decisions, through the lens of TrueCue.

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