With the next industrial revolution progressing, a considerable amount of new data is being created, stored and analysed daily. This information massively impacts our economy, workforce, culture and society. Our experiences, whether it be individually or collectively, are significantly influenced by data.
We collectively create data, but as it stands, women account for only 26% of data and AI positions in the global workforce, with the gender gap continuing to expand at the senior level. This is a concerning statistic considering we are well aware of the impacts of data bias in recruitment, finance and other industries.
Women in data have never been so critical in our data-focused world. Fortunately, several female leaders have contributed massively to the industry and have created the path for the next generation. For International Women’s Day, we should highlight women’s impact on the data industry.
Reducing the gender gap
While the industry does need to improve its image to STEM graduates, there are an increasing number of international projects supported by tech leaders like Google, Microsoft and Salesforce with backing from the World Economic Forum, aiming to improve gender equality in the industry. Successful female leaders like Fei-Fei Li, the founder of Stanford AI lab, have been doing great work improving diversity in data for several years. More women are joining their ranks and becoming role models and mentors, inspiring the next generation of young women looking to pursue a career in data and AI.
Reducing the gender gap goes beyond adapting recruitment processes and implementing gender and diversity targets. Industry leaders must ensure their company culture enables women to feel capable of voicing their opinions and providing the insights that often provide companies with a competitive advantage. Studies show that teams capable of rethinking their strategies based on the contribution of female employees are far more likely to deliver successful concepts. With the more female leader in the industry, we can generate opportunities for female contributors to succeed in ways other businesses won’t be able to ignore.
Promoting diversity in data
Women are advocating diversity and inclusion in data, tackling the current gender biases in industry. Thanks to an increasing number of women, businesses are implementing the necessary steps to eliminate data bias and provide alternatives when creating insights from big data. Pre-determined algorithms impact every part of our lives, so women must be involved to avoid widening the existing gender gap. Furthermore, women are improving business performance, with studies indicating those companies in the top 25% for gender diversity are 15% more likely to achieve their financial goals. Some of the most successful tech startups consist of twice as many women in senior positions than less successful tech companies.
Supporting data and innovation
Women in data are incorporating their skills and talent to deliver innovative solutions capable of tackling challenges and generating new ideas for a business that will shape the future of data and analytics. Businesses must focus on improving gender diversity within their data teams if they plan to be part of a growth market controlling more than £20 trillion of global consumer spending. Gender-diverse data teams can deliver a system recognising what female end-users want, allowing businesses to provide a far more effective service.
Data opportunities for women
A recent study by the World Economic Forum discovered that over 90% of employers intend to implement user and big data analytics, with data scientists and analysts considered one of the top ten emerging jobs. Many businesses have just started their data journeys and are now recognising the value of gender diversity. While there is progress with the number of women working in data, there remains a significant gender gap. Businesses and individuals must continue working on creating more opportunities for women in data. By doing this, we can deliver a more diverse and inclusive industry that supports everyone.