How Data Science is Creating Opportunity For Women

How Data Science is Creating Opportunity For Women

The growth in data science jobs provides another opportunity for women to enter a field traditionally dominated by men.

Women trail in earning degrees in STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math. Men are twice as likely as women to enter those fields, according to the College Board.

However, women earn 40% of the bachelor’s degrees awarded in statistics, according to the Washington Post. That’s often a great stepping stone to earning a master’s degree in data science.

The growth in data science jobs offers an opportunity for women to move into a cutting edge profession. Data itself also may help women in leadership positions by eliminating long-held stereotypes.

The Data Science Opportunity for Women

The issue of women entering data science fields has become so big that a Women In Data Science conference is held each year at Stanford University. The event is live streamed to 73 cities in 30 countries. The conference is hosted by Stanford’s Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering (ICME).

ICME director Margot Gerritsen told CMS Wire that some women talk themselves out of entering data science because they think they need “an innate ability to do data science. We need to change that attitude.”

Part of the attraction is the simple wealth of opportunity. Many occupations that involve data science have a large projected job growth in the coming years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

They include operational research analysis, which is expected to grow 30% between 2014 and 2024. Another is database administration, expected to grow 11%.

In a study by McKinsey and Company, the shortfall for data scientists is projected to reach more than a million in the coming years.

Writing for Forbes, GoHero CEO Katie Elizabeth wrote that now is the time of opportunity for women in data science. She wrote that “the increasing demand for data scientists and the rise of women in that space can heavily influence the startup and STEM worlds to create new opportunities for women across the board.”

How Data Science Helps Female Executives 

Data also could correct a bias against women in executive positions. That’s because data eliminates bias.

Bias remains an issue in public perception of female business leaders, according to a 2016 study from the Rockefeller Foundation.  They found that women chief executives are two and a half times more likely than men to be blamed for failures in businesses they run.

The study also found 49% of media coverage on women chief executives overseeing a time of crisis mention gender. Only 4% mention gender when the CEO is male. They also reported that while 90% of CEO positions in 2016 were filled by those who had profit-and-loss responsibility in previous jobs, none of those were women.

Data science has the potential to change that. A person’s record is a person’s record. Organizations looking only at performance metrics can’t help but hire more women to leadership positions.

Daphne Kis is CEO of WorldQuaint University. She wrote in Recode that an era is coming where women will thrive because they are judged by their “personal and financial performance metrics.”

Certainly, those looking to enter the data science field have an opportunity like never before. And for women, it’s a chance to break through into STEM in a big way.