The gender gap is a prominent issue which is not redundant in data. As a female who’s chosen to enter the big data industry, I cannot seem to fathom why females make up less than 26% of the data and analytics world (Aston University Online, 2020). Data isn’t just for men so how has this divide occurred? One reason why I chose to enter a career in data (is partially due to the movie Money Ball, but let’s not get into that) is listening to Caroline Criado Perez – Invisible women.
Data is fundamental to business growth, but it goes beyond that, data is also startingly significant to our health and other critical aspects of our lives. A British cardiology study showed that women experience 50% higher rates of heart attack misdiagnosis, with comparatively fewer women surviving the first attack ( BHF Press Office , 2016). As most of the data was replicated on males – the one size fits all approach, as shown here, is no longer applicable. These problems are often systemic, beginning with how we manufacture data to the models we build.
One may presume women are just underrepresented in the world of data analytics, but that can be assumed throughout all industries. Although women outweigh men as stem graduates, many do not seem to pursue their interest into data. The 26% of females are also twice as likely to leave technology roles compared to their fellow male colleagues (Mercer, 2017).
A cause of this could be the inhospitable climate women can face in the workplace. Research suggests women can be subjected to gender pay gaps, slow career progression, sexual harassment, male-dominated office culture and gender bias in hiring (Office, 2019). All these factors can discourage women from continuing their careers in the exciting field of data.
There are two huge factors which drew me towards Rockborne – diversity and inclusion. Although many companies today are undertaking diversity, we as a society are heavily missing inclusion. As well as wider topics including culture and race, Rockborne is essentially tackling the lack of inclusion of females in the industry.
Diversity is acknowledging the difference amongst employees, whereas inclusion is allotting a sense of value and empowerment for employees. Inclusion can only occur when companies account for equity, this could be to compensate for social or historical disadvantages. Equity will set the stage for equality for both men and women in the data industry.
We may have the diversity of females but are they truly influencing the business growth? Are many companies just hiring females so they can acclaim their diversity award, or rather are they trying to upskill and level out the playing field for both men and women.
Data engineering has been significantly on the rise, but so has female participation. Not only does this diversity AND inclusion support business growth but also allows colleagues to be opened to array of underrepresented opinions and ideas. “A Boston Consulting Group study found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation. This finding is significant for tech companies, start-ups, and industries where innovation is the key to growth.” (Forbes, 2018)
So, how can companies drive inclusion for data roles for women?
– Businesses need to begin by understanding that lack of insights into diversity harms others as well as their own business
– Using transparency to promote accountability, identify the issue and show how you are solving the lack of inclusion
– Progress over perfection – the process is never going to be perfect and each organisation’s markers will differ but by tracking data to gauge the impact of diversity on key business markers
– Holding effective meetings and educating leaders on the lack of inclusion, by holding seminars for women to be more vocal and visible with their opinions.
This only touches the surface of a prolonged issue, but it’s great to see many companies identify the positive impact it has on colleagues as well as the business. Given that companies are now aware of the lack of inclusion in gender, we can only expect companies to make a change for the better!
BHF Press Office . (2016, August 30). Women are 50% more likely than men to be given incorrect diagnosis following a heart attack. Retrieved from BHF: https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/news-from-the-bhf/news-archive/2016/august/women-are-50-per-cent-more-likely-than-men-to-be-given-incorrect-diagnosis-following-a-heart-attack
Aston University Online. (2020, November 23). Aston University. Retrieved from Why Women in Data Science Are Crucial In a Data-Driven World: https://studyonline.aston.ac.uk/news/2020/11/23/why-women-data-science-are-crucial-data-driven-world#:~:text=Despite%20the%20importance%20of%20these,in%20a%20data%2Ddriven%20world.
Forbes. (2018, jun 27). A Study Finds That Diverse Companies Produce 19% More Revenue. Retrieved from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/annapowers/2018/06/27/a-study-finds-that-diverse-companies-produce-19-more-revenue/?sh=5469f9b3506f
Mercer, j. (2017, June 20). Why are there so few women in tech jobs? Retrieved from Kettle: https://kettlemag.co.uk/why-are-there-so-few-women-in-tech-jobs/
Office, G. E. (2019). Women’s Progression in the. London: Laura Jones, Global Institute for Women’s.