Over the decades, the number of women that make up the Data & Analytics industry has slowly but surely grown. Indeed, in 2020, women made up 30 per cent of the industry compared to only 25 per cent in 2019 – a sure sign that steps were being taken in the right direction to reach the desired 50/50 gender parity. This week, we released our annual State of Diversity in Data & Analytics report and, despite the extreme hurdles that the COVID-19 pandemic presented, the picture for gender diversity remains a positive one. Women are entering the industry at record paceThe results show that the number of young women entering the UK’s Data & Analytics sector since the start of the pandemic is three times higher than that of the tech industry as a whole. According to our study, which involved 4,600 respondents, more than 1 in 3 of all new hires made in the 18 months to September 2021 were female compared to just 10 per cent for the entire tech sector. Additionally, we were pleased to see that the gender pay gap at entry-level has fallen to 6 per cent versus the national average of 7.4 per cent.What we can take from these encouraging results is that not only are employers doing more to welcome and retain female talent in the workplace, but further support is happening a lot earlier on – at education level – to ensure women are given equal opportunities and encouraged to take up STEM careers. As mentioned in a recent blog, in order to see more women moving into the STEM sectors, there must be more engagement at a younger age. This helps avoid the STEM cliff, which is usually seen at around eight or nine years of age, whereby young girls become disengaged and usually fall away from learning. This then creates a ripple effect and only a few years later, we see the results: a very male-dominated space. Thankfully, as we can see in our latest report, the tables are turning. It’s not time to pull back on the reinsNevertheless, we need to continue ‘upping the anté’ and resist becoming complacent. While the number of women joining at entry level has risen significantly this year, it’s hard to ignore the fact the number of women that make up the industry at all levels has dropped over the past 12 months. Indeed, the number of women working in the sector at all levels dipped by 2 per cent to 28 per cent of all professionals. At senior management level, the number halves from 40 per cent to 24 per cent while the number of women operating on executive teams has also seen a fall from 24 per cent to 12 per cent. Furthermore, the gender pay gap across the board has widened by 3.5 per cent since March 2020 and stands at 13.5 per cent.What’s next?It is vital that leaders continue to maintain the new, innovative ways of working which have been initiated by the pandemic, such as remote and flexible working, that have proven to offer a wider range of opportunities to a much broader demographic. Companies must also continue to be as open, honest, and transparent as they have been in the past 18 months with their employees, regularly listening to their needs and wants to make the working world as accessible as possible. While the industry has a lot of work ahead to reach the right level of inclusion, it’s important to step back and recognise all that has been done to get to where we stand today. It has taken a long time and immense effort to create change and appreciating this will be the momentum that spurs us to continue this hard work.To read this year’s report, click here.