Working at Bays Consulting, people often ask me to talk about my experiences as a woman in data science. So, why not sum up my thoughts in a blog?
Talking about the challenges I have overcome as a woman in STEM seems strange when my experiences have always been positive. It got me thinking, what did I find a challenge? I can’t say my lack of confidence was a great help. A high percentage of women suffer from imposter syndrome in the workplace. Could this be a barrier that we sometimes put up for ourselves? It can be hard putting yourself out there, speaking up in meetings with the fear of people not taking you seriously. But this definitely becomes easier the more you do it.
Where did my interest in tech begin?
I was naturally more interested in the STEM subjects at school, so when it came to university I never considered another option. It hadn’t really crossed my mind that being a woman in STEM could mean that I was at a disadvantage. Thinking back, maybe I was lucky enough to have the encouragement and support around me to have never considered it an issue.
I was already at university studying maths when I’d come across the drama series Bletchley Circle. Although this is a fictionalised series, it sparked my interest to learn more about the women breaking into ciphers during World War II. Times were very different back then. After their job was complete, these women were expected to go back to their everyday life – unable to talk about the exceptional contributions that they had made. No recognition for their codebreaking abilities.
It may have been fictional characters that originally made me think about a career in tech and coding. But now I am here, and there are so many inspiring women to look up to. I am surrounded by incredible women excelling in maths, statistics, and data science everyday.
There’s still a long way to go, but attitudes are changing.
Today, we have so many great organisations and resources that encourage young girls to get into STEM. These organisations can be instrumental to young girls who don’t have the support and encouragement that I did growing up. Sharing our experiences can also be important to break down any misconceptions about being a woman in STEM.
This industry is still male-dominated. Now and again, you may find yourself being the only woman in a room – but attitudes are starting to change. Many now recognise that having a diverse work force brings different opinions, different approaches and different skillsets – all of which contribute to a greater outcome!
By Holly Jones