In Praise of Diverse Data Teams

The data is in, data science teams need more women.

Strength in Diversity

According to a 2018 Deloitte study, having more women in your IT workforce means lower project costs, better problem solving, and increased innovation. Moreover, The Atlantic reports that “More gender diversity, particularly in corporate settings, can translate to increased productivity, greater innovation, better decision-making, and higher employee retention and satisfaction.” There isn’t any question about it, having a diverse team is important not only for a company’s bottom line but also to create an inclusive and diverse culture. If creating an inclusive and diverse culture is so important for organizations, how are data teams adapting to make this happen?


How about in Analytics?

Unfortunately, most data teams are not adapting well. In a recent Harnham report, only 18% of data science roles are occupied by females, and 11% of data teams don’t have any women on them at all. While this doesn’t look good on the surface, it’s important to remember that this might not be an intentional consequence of a company’s diversity efforts or hiring practices. Let me explain. 

According to a recent Forbes article, “About 55% of university graduates are females, but only a little over one-third of those degrees are in STEM.” Additionally, BCG states that “Consensus across various surveys is that only about 15% to 22% of all professionals in data science–related roles are women.” This information, coupled with the knowledge that data scientists are in high demand, illustrates to us that hiring a woman data scientist is challenging.  It is possible a company is doing its best to attract a diverse candidate pool; however, due to the low number of women in the data science field, might not be able to secure any of the available candidates for their team. So, all hope is lost for data teams achieving their diversity and inclusion goals, right? 

Surprise! Adding women to your data science team may be easier than you think.


Include & Upskill

There are probably many female (and male), analysts sprinkled throughout your organization today, that with a little bit of reskilling, would be a great addition to your data science team.  Indeed, according to BCG, “Reskilling can flip the odds and offer significant opportunities for women, particularly in the STEM roles that are so in demand.” These candidates usually have a clear vision of the organization and strong business connections. Furthermore, they have an array of experiences inside the organization and a proven track record of using analytic techniques to solve real business problems. So, while today they may be using Excel or SQL to cobble together enough information to make good decisions, tomorrow they could become Citizen Data Scientists


In summary, by reskilling or upskilling these analysts already in your organization, you are having three beneficial impacts. The first is that you are gaining valuable team members with incredible business acumen. The second is that you are ensuring that your company can make better use of data which leads to both cost savings through greater efficiency and competitiveness through access and use of that data. The third is that you are not letting the current low women in STEM and data science numbers sabotage your best attempts in achieving an inclusive and diverse team and all the benefits that are associated with having one.

Interested in learning how to better include and upskill analysts in your organization?  Contact us for a free consultation:

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