In a largely male-dominated industry, women who work in data and data analytics face perpetual cultural and gender-based adversities, and this can deter potential individuals from entry.
Currently, She Loves Data have chapters in Auckland, Singapore, Sydney, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Melbourne and Los Angeles. Participants are encouraged to network and share their experiences and ideas in a welcoming and inclusive environment.
The most popular events are the workshops run by volunteer professionals. The day long classes introduce interested women to data science, analytics and AI. Those involved work in data or information-technology based roles across a range of large and small firms, including IBM, Google, and Facebook.
She Loves Data is sponsored by corporate partners including Facebook, Minerra, Arq Group and Big Data World.
Last week, I attended an Open Night panel discussion in Sydney hosted by the local chapter.
Eva Jelinkova, a geodata specialist, opened the proceedings, setting out the evening’s program and introducing audiences to the operational strategies of She Loves Data.
The evening’s main event was a panel discussion lead by Co-founder and Managing Director Jana Marle-Zizkova.
Titled ‘Data is the New Black’, the panel featured Michele Shiers (Head of Customer Services at Telstra), Elizabeth Wu (Cloud consultant at Google), Kerry Slater (Head of Data at ARQ Group), Judy Hurditch (Managing Director of her own company Intermedium) and Celestine Bond (AI Senior Manager at PWC).
The panel discussion was lively and insightful, with each speaker detailing their career pathways and professional developments they recommend others take. The room was filled with women in tech, data, business and accounting, hearing interesting advice on navigating a professional career in an often female-adverse environment.
The panellists urged women to step outside their comfort zones and to continue to set higher goals.
Judy Hurditch encouraged an attitude of perpetual higher education. Michele Shiers began her working career as a hairdresser and was encouraged by a client to apply for a job as a sales woman in her late twenties. Thirty years on, she now manages more than 130 employees in Telstra’s Customer Service department. She’s also undertaking a Masters degree, demonstrating a hunger to continuously grow and develop her skills and expertise.
Elizabeth Wu from Google told audiences of her love of reading, and how her own personal research has made her a stronger candidate in applying for jobs in the past. She also shared a personal story of the risks involved in neglecting self-care and letting one’s career dominate one’s life. It’s a lesson for all women, to maintain balance as best as one can, to look after one’s health before anything else.
Celestine Bond shared her story of beginning her career in a Graduate program with Railcorp. Though the experience did not directly relate to what she does today in her current role at PWC, she said that any role that expands your perceptions can only be a good thing.
She Loves Data aims to inspire women to pursue careers in data & tech and to help embolden them in their pursuit of a career that is fulfilling and stimulating. Currently, 26% of the data industry are women. This organisation is hoping to change these figures and fortify a stronger community of females. So far, they’ve trained more than 4,500 women across the seven chapters, and held more than 65 workshops. Organisations like these will no doubt promote and encourage more women to join the industry and diversify the data science workforce.
Find out more about She Loves Data here.