Sadie St. Lawrence says we need more women in data

Calling All Women, The Data is Waiting!

If someone would have told me 10 years ago I would be working in data science I would have laughed, and then most likely asked, “What is data science?” As much as I love planning my entire life, and have a Type A personality, finding the world of data has been one of the best unexpected things that has happened to me.

Data Science has been the No. 1 job in the U.S. for the past two years, according to Glassdoor’s Best-Jobs-in-America annual report. Not only is data science the top job, but four of the top 10 jobs from the report are in the field of data and analytics.

But don’t pursue a data-related career simply because of the high job satisfaction rates, high demand for talent or the high-paying opportunities. These factors and motivators will not be enough for you to make it in the industry.

From my experience, the people who make it and are successful in the field are those who love asking tough questions, enjoy working through difficult problems, are continual learners, and above all have an insane amount of curiosity.

 According to the 2017 Burtch Works Salary of Data Scientists study, only 15 percent of data scientists are female and only 4 percent of executive leaders in the field are female.

I enjoy working with incredibly smart people every day, yet we are increasingly faced with very tough issues in the world of data. Data has allowed us to gain valuable insights for businesses, and these insights and algorithms are increasingly being used to automate processes and jobs. As more people get concerned about the loss of jobs and the “unknowns” with AI and automation, we need people from diverse backgrounds to ensure we are driving insights and creating automation that benefits all people. That is why we need more women in the field.

I believe we need all walks of life to solve these issues, and the lack of gender diversity in the field is a clear and easy way to make change. According to the 2017 Burtch Works Salary of Data Scientists study, only 15 percent of data scientists are female and only 4 percent of executive leaders in the field are female. To ensure the field progresses with a diversity of perspectives on solving tough issues, we need the creativity and innovation that only comes from different walks of life.

So ladies, please come. We need your intelligence, we need your creativity, and we need your point of view. Rewarding careers are there, the education is available and the data is waiting!

Sadie St. Lawrence is the founder and executive director of Women in Data, a nonprofit group empowering women in data science and analytics. She also works as the lead data scientist for VSP Global.