Improving diversity in data and analytics teams

Sandra Namatovu our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 6/5/2013 11:01 AM

We are a data-driven world fueled by information. Whether it's the obvious players such as the financial or retail industries or the not so obvious from sports to music; everyone uses data within their business to make decisions. That is the heart of business intelligence (BI). BI helps businesses identify, discover, and analyse data from revenue, costs, incomes, and products or services. 

If you google "data science" or "data scientist", you might get what schools offer degrees in the field, where to find a job, or you might find articles which talk about the profession as whole; "the hottest job of the 21st century" or "data scientists are the rock stars of the techworld". Yet, across the Google pages and throughout the articles you might notice a troubling trend; there remains a shortage of data science professionals in both the US and the UK. Why?

Diversity in Data

Though the percentage of women in the STEM and technology fields has declined since the early 90s when it peaked at 36%. Yet, the shortage remains. It's not just women, however, who are underrepresented. Other minorities are underrepresented as well. 

With around 12% of Hispanic/Latino or African-American Data Science enrollees and 35% women enrolled in technical education fields, it would seem a bit of fostering and encouragement might generate further interest in the field. But, to remember when building your diverse data team, everyone wants simply to be treated as equal - to have their thoughts and voice heard.

According to a recent article in Forbes, women in the US hold 26% of data jobs. The number drops to half that in the UK. And the numbers continue drop in regard to diverse representation in the field. Proposed reasons for the gap are a lack of education in the STEM fields early on, a lack of mentorship for women in data science, even resources and rules stemming from human resource departments. In other words, companies need to be educated on the benefits of diversity in their data teams. 

The US Department of Labor predicts 1.4 million computer specialist positions will be open by 2020. In the UK, an additional 182,000 jobs will be created by 2020. That's on top of the data and computer science jobs that already exist. An explosion of opportunity abounds for women and men alike. With organisations like Girls Who Code, the Women in Data Science (WiDS), Grace Hopper, and month's MIT Conference Talk Data to Me, there are plenty of opportunities to share stories, be inclusive, and grow the field to change the world.

Move 'Em Up, Not Out

It's become nearly cliché to suggest a woman leaves a job due to family obligations. It is rarely, if ever the case today. What doesn't work is the attrition rate, often not even realised and it begins much earlier in life.

According to Girls Who Code, 74% of middle school girls have an interest in STEM topics and careers, but that number drops exponentially to 0.4% by high school. That's quite a drop in potential candidates to the field long gone before they ever choose their college majors. But, the challenge of attainment and retention goes beyond education. 

Other obstacles abound once they're in the workplace such as feelings of isolation, a lack of mentorship or support, limited special assignments and not being looked to as equal players in the field. So, to combat this, many women simply take their knowledge and begin their own companies. They can source the data and communicate it to laypersons in an easy to understand manner so informed business decisions can be made to improve products or services. Baselines and benchmarks can be set and these women know it's important to question what they see, to run what-if scenarios, and to look at every angle.

Ultimately, the data science industry needs more women to bring their skills and perspectives to the table for better overall performance. Though women remain the minority in technology the goal is to raise awareness, to highlight opportunities and bring the benefits of diversity to light. With the abundance of programs, cross mentorship opportunities; women mentoring other women, but also mentorship from their male counterparts, and more educated companies on the benefits of a diverse data science team, women will continue to close the gender gap at a steady pace. 

Harnham are proud to have a client who is currently in search of female talent specifically. We specialise in junior and senior level recruitment in the digital and analytics field and pride ourselves on setting the bar for other firms to emulate. If you're interested in big data, marketing insights, and other roles within the data science fields, we've got a role for you. Check out our vacancies here or contact us for more information. 

Contact our UK Team at (020) 8408 6070 or email ukinfo@harnham.com to learn more.

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MeasureCamp Berlin

MeasureCamp Berlin: A Preview

In preparation for this year's MeasureCamp Berlin, we sat down with Benjamin Bock, communications lead, to discuss what to expect, as well as his thoughts on the industry in general. Here's what he had to say: Can you explain MeasureCamp for people who haven’t been yet? MeasureCamp is an open, free-to-attend analytics 'un-conference' made by analytics professionals for analytics professionals (and everyone who wants to get there) around the globe. In that sense, it’s different to any conference you know of. Our schedule is created on the day of the event, and our speakers are fellow attendees. Listen to talks, give a talk, and discuss topics that really tickle your fancy. What can we expect at MeasureCamp Berlin this year? Let’s begin with what you can’t and never will expect at MeasureCamp Berlin: Sales pitch presentations. We’ve all been there… you are visiting a fancy, expensive conference and all you get is Heads of 'This n’ That' talking about what their team did, what they spent money on and that you should buy Product X to be as Data-driven as them (mind the cynicism). At MeasureCamp you can expect talks and discussion rounds by around 150 fellow experts, who all know the daily adventures of cleaning Data, setting up analytics or debugging tracking code or running mind-bending analysis first hand.  What is your best tip for someone that has never been at MeasureCamp before? Don’t rush it! MeasureCamp is about mingling with the analytics community as much as it is about the talks and discussion rounds. Pick a few talks that really interest you and use the rest of the day to get to know other attendees. Our awesome sponsors are also more than happy to talk to you. What is the best advice you got last year at MeasureCamp? On a personal level, I was able to get some really good advice when it came to data privacy topics. GDPR was still fairly fresh and nobody really knew if what they had done was actually enough to not get into trouble. That’s the kind of advice you only get if you have the chance to talk to other professionals face to face. On another note, what are the most sought-after skills and technologies currently used? I can only speak of my experience here. On a hard skill level and depending on the individual role, you need a solid understanding of web technologies (JavaScript, HTML, CSS) and tag managing systems to be able to implement tracking (plus some knowledge in mobile development when your focus lies on apps). When it comes to analysing and visualising Data, you should understand the tool you are working with and its underlying Data-structures. Being able to retrieve tool-agnostic Data with SQL and running more sophisticated calculations (e.g. with Python) has become more and more important over the last few years. But there are some softer skills, that should not be overlooked as well. As an analytics professional, you should never assume that your knowledge and language are common ground. You need to be a strong communicator, who is able to explain complicated concepts broken down to the absolute basics. In your opinion, what will be the biggest challenge in digital analytics in the next year? Two weeks ago, I would have answered “bringing web and app Data together”. Now that we know Google is working on that topic, it’s still a challenge, but one I am happy to tackle in the coming year. Digital Analytics is constantly changing. What do you expect to be the most talked about topic at MeasureCamp this year? As a Tracking Specialist with a focus on Google products, I’d love to hear some talks about Google Tag Manager Custom Templates. But my top guess is, that the newly released Apps and Web properties beta for Google Analytics will be the talk of the hour. MeasureCamp Berlin is an open and free-to-attend 'un-conference', taking place this year on the 28th of September. The final batch of tickets will be released on the 21st of August at 03:00 PM (CEST). Click here for more information and to get hold of your place. 

Where Tech Meets Tradition

Where Tech Meets Tradition

If you’re lamenting the decline of handmade traditional products, cast your cares aside. There’s a new Sheriff in town and its name is, Tech. Just a generation ago, children would leave the farm or the family business, go to school, and then move on to make their place in the world doing their own thing. Away from family.  Today, the landscape has changed and those who have left are coming home. But this time, they’re bringing technology with them to help make things more efficient and more productive. Is Tech-Assisted Still Handmade? In a word, yes. Artists still make things “from scratch”, except now technologies allow them to not only see their vision in real-time, but their customers, too. Have you ever wondered what the image in your head might look like on paper or in metal? What about the design of prosthetic arms and healthcare devices by 3D printers? You’re still designing, creating.  But just like any new technology, there’s still a learning curve. Even for cutting-edge craftspeople who find that sometimes, the line between craftsmanship and high-tech creativity may be a bit of a blur. Not to mention the expense for either the equipment required or being able to offer art using traditional tools at technology-assisted prices. Somewhere between the two, there is a trade-off. It’s up to the individual to determine where and what that trade-off is. Life in the Creative Economy One of Banksy’s paintings shredded itself upon purchase at an auction recently. AI is making music and writing books. Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Blockchain all have their place in the creative economy from immersive entertainment to efficient manufacturing processes. Each of these touches the way we live now. In a joint study between McKinsey and the World Economic Forum, 'Creative Disruption: The impact of emerging technologies on the creative economy', the organisations broke down the various technologies used in the creative economy and how they’re driving change. For example: AI is being used to distill user preferences when it comes to curating movies and music. The Associated Press has used AI to free up reporters’ time and the Washington Post has created a tool to help it generate up to 70 articles a month, many stories of which they wouldn’t have otherwise dedicated staff.Machine Learning has begun to create original content. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have come together as a new medium to help move people to get up, get active, and go play whether it’s a stroll through a virtual art gallery or watching your children play at the playground.  Where else might immersive media play out? Content today could help tell humanitarian stories or offer work-place diversity training. But back to the artisan handicrafts.  Artistry with technology Whilst publishing firms may be looking to use AI to redefine the creative economy, they are not alone. Other artists utilising these technologies include:  SculptorsDigital artistsPaintersJewellery makersBourbon distillers America’s oldest distiller has gotten on the technology bandwagon and while there is no rushing good Bourbon, but you can manage the process more efficiently. They’ve even taken things a step further and have created an app for aficionados to follow along in the process. Talk about crafted and curated for individual tastes and transparency. It may seem almost self-explanatory to note how other artisans are using technology. But what about distilleries? What are they doing? They’re creating efficiency by: Adding IoT sensors for Data Analytics collection Adding RFID tags to their barrels Creating experimental ageing warehouses (AR, anyone?) to refine their craft. Don’t worry, though. These changes won’t affect the spirit itself. After all, according to Mr. Wheatley, Master Distiller, “There’s no way to cheat mother nature or father time.” Ultimately, the idea is to not only understand the history behind the process, but to make it more efficient and repeatable. A way to preserve the processes of the past while using the advances of the present with an eye to the future. If you’re interested in using Data & Analytics to drive creativity, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expect consultants to find out more. 

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