Building community engagement – a key driver to women in data

McElla Pappas our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 3/13/2018 10:24 AM

Across the UK and throughout Europe, the data science field is booming. The role of data and data scientists is becoming business as usual as Big Data and Analytics enter the C-suite. London itself boasts more data scientist jobs than anywhere in the country, yet there remains a shortage of talent at over 50% of vacancies in the UK Market.

The scarcity of junior roles and the high demand for work experience in the field, however, offer potential opportunities to growth. Though the shortage exists as a whole across the industry, the shortage of women in the field is less than 20%. However, it is estimated that if women filled the vacancies, the economy would see an additional £2.6bilion annually. The most desired soft skills in data science candidates are a mix of communication skills, an analytical mind-set, passion, dedication and confidence. Candidates must not only be able to gather and analyse data, but also to translate it to help business executives make informed decisions.

Though women are still largely underrepresented in the STEM fields, there are growing trends to encourage girls and women to enter the fields as well as educating businesses on the benefits of women joining their data teams. Events such as MeasureCamp are one of those opportunities. 

The Key to Engagement and Motivation is Community

According to a recent article, one of the key steps to motivation and engagement in the field is the opportunity to actively contributed through meaningful and supportive discussion of best practices as well as the opportunity to connect with others in the field to share personal stories and network. In essence, women learn best through a community. 

Female leaders who have cracked the glass ceiling in the data science space are creating opportunities in an effort to diversify education opportunities, to inspire, to engage, and to motivate data scientists of all genders. This community will, overtime, build on itself as more women gain the courage to raise their hands, rise up, take risks, and set performance metrics to meet and exceed corporate expectations. 

Sharing stories and personal experiences can help build confidence through mentorship and raise collaborative efforts of diverse data teams to new heights. Every person who takes up the challenge to engage in collaboration and innovation without bias and in full equality enables future generations to make their mark as well as fill the data science vacancies which have plagued London and the UK in recent years.

Changing the Conversation and Making an Impact

In a recent interview with McElla Pappas, Vice President of Harnham, we asked her thoughts on how to engage more women in the data science field. Though Ms. Pappas is based in the US, Harnham are a global recruitment firm committed to placing top talent regardless of gender. 

In her own words regarding the engagement of more women in the data science field, "The science that I've always heard is women like to see impact, to see growth so we need to shift the conversation from "this is a technical role" to "this is a role that is changing the way healthcare will look tomorrow". If we can focus and drive more women toward the messaging of what we're impacting; whether it be in the healthcare space, learning and development space, or improving customer experience, I'm sure we'll see more engagement from women." 

By participating in community-driven experiences such as MeasureCampGirls Who CodeTechGirlz, and so on, women of all levels, ages, and experience can gain a better understanding of how to tackle barriers. The networks and connections women have naturally at their fingertips offer creative ways to leverage collaborations and utilise their natural abilities such as insight, empathy, and natural curiosity.

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What’s Keeping Women Out Of Data Science?

Data Science, the extraction of data to provide meaningful knowledge and insight, is experiencing a surge in growth within Data & Analytics. It is a fast-growing specialism, and talent in this area is in demand, with there being a 650 per cent increase in data science jobs since 2012. Simply put, pretty soon Data Science is going to play a fundamental role in every industry across the globe. Organisations have to adapt and make use of a range of Data Science tools and techniques or they will simply be forced out of business. LinkedIn recognised in their Emerging Jobs report that the role of a Data Scientist sits in the top three in the US, citing significant advancements in the emphasis on using data for this growth. Comparatively in the UK, this role lands within the top 10 at number seven.  Yet, our research tells us that in the UK, 25 per cent of female professionals work within Data Science, with this number dipping to just 20 per cent in the US. So, how can we support more women to enter the specialism? Encourage access to opportunities  Organisations need to continue to hire highly skilled technical talent to keep up with the growth that we are witnessing in the Data Science specialism. Yet, time and time again, working in Data Science can be seen to be an unattractive career proposition – in particular to women. To counteract this, business leaders need to make the role and rewards of becoming a Data Scientist visible within their organisation. Showcasing the range of projects and campaigns that are available, as well as providing opportunities for women to accelerate their careers and follow a pathway that suits them is critical. Education of STEM roles from a young age In order to see more women moving into roles within Data Science, industry leaders from within STEM fields need to take control and lead the way in educating women on the array of opportunities available. Through supporting, organising or hosting workshops, webinars and conferences, organisations can introduce women at entry-level to what careers in Data Science actually look like. This week for example in the UK, we’re currently in the middle of British Science Week. It is initiatives like these that build upon the education that is needed to promote roles in technical fields. Building up communities In the past year, we’ve all come to rely on our connections to provide insight and support during this period of uncertainty and change. This should be a continued focus moving forwards, building communities, networking and sharing knowledge in order to create an informed, educated and engaged workforce that attracts (and retains) female professionals. Within female-focused networks and groups, organisations can support women in advancing their careers, advocating for themselves and acting as a platform to showcase the opportunities that are available to women looking to move into a role in Data & Analytics. The consequence of ignoring these actions is a lack of diversity. We know that diverse teams perform better, and so welcoming in and making the Data Science specialism an attractive career consideration for women is critical. As the industry continues to advance and demand for skilled professionals grows, there will be plenty of opportunity for top talent to make their mark. If you're looking to take the next step in your career or build out a diverse Data & Analytics team, we may be able to help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more. 

How Are Data & Analytics Professionals Mapping COVID Trends With Data?

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted industries across the globe. There’s no ignoring that simple fact. This disruption (most notably) caused devastating effects in two strands: to our health and to business operations. As the virus spread, the health and wellbeing of people in society worsened, and businesses felt the strain of projects being placed on hold, and work slowing or completely grinding to a halt. As of the 24th February 2021, the disease has infected more than 112,237,188 people, with 2,487,349 reported deaths. For Data & Analytics professionals, it soon became evident that they could use their skills to help. Using the mass of data available, professionals and researchers turned to big data analytics tools to track and monitor the virus’s spread, along with a variety of trends. Here’s how: Genomics and sequencing Life science is a significant application within Data & Analytics and explores the study of all living things on earth. One particular section of this study looks at the concept of genomic sequencing.  Genomic sequencing is significant as it allows us looks at the entire genetic code of a virus – in this case, COVID-19. Most importantly, the technique means that researchers and analysts can identify dangerous mutations and track movements of specific variants. We know that the UK has the most advanced system for tracing covid variants too. Last year, Britain launched one of the world’s largest coronavirus sequencing projects, by investing £20 million in the Covid-19 Genomics UK consortium. In a group that included NHS researchers, public health agencies, academic partners and the Wellcome Sanger Institute, they set out to map the genetic code of as many strains of the coronavirus as possible. And the buy-in paid off. It took the US approximately 72 days to process and share each genetic sequence, compared with 23 days for UK researchers, according to figures compiled by the Broad Institute with data from Gisaid. Tech giants stepping in Ultimately, your organisation is more agile than you think it is. Regardless of the size of the business, or the industry in which it operates, the sector’s response in applying analysis and data to track the coronavirus was nothing short of miraculous. Google introduced a series of features such as popular times and live busyness, COVID-19 alerts in transit, and COVID checkpoints in driving navigation in order to keep their one billion (and growing) app users safe. They also introduced the COVID layer in Maps, a tool that shows critical information about COVID-19 cases in a given area, allowing their customers  to make informed decisions about where to go and what to do. Apple also released a mobility data trends tool from Apple Maps. This data was shared in order to provide insights to local governments and health authorities so that they could support mapping specific covid trends. These first-hand examples indicate the influence and power of using data to better our understanding of the virus. Before the coronavirus pandemic, professionals, businesses and industries alike worked in siloes. What we have witnessed since has been very much the opposite, as experts quickly came together to begin mapping out data requirements and supporting the world’s focus to improve the public’s health and get businesses back on their feet. Without Data & Analytics, none of this would be possible. If you're looking to take the next step in your career or build out a diverse Data & Analytics team, we may be able to help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more. 

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