Data is shaping the future of the economy, the workforce and our individual experiences communicating and living in the modern-day world. A staggering 90 percent of the world’s data was generated in just two years’ time, and as our world becomes increasingly digitised, the data being generated and stored accumulates every day.
If big data is shaping the world, who is responsible for shaping this raw data? Data scientists, data analysts and professionals working in technology and STEM jobs are crucial in making business decisions that influence nearly every industry. Despite the importance of these roles, in the world today only 15 percent of data scientists are women and only 26 percent of professionals occupying data and analytics roles are women in data science, and the gap continues to widen in senior positions.
Women in data science are essential in a data-driven world. We cannot accept large gender gaps where women are underrepresented, especially in industries that promise to change the world in such monumental ways. Women in statistics and data science will help prevent statistical bias, offer unique perspectives and enjoy the benefits of a high-paying career path with a positive job outlook.
What is Data Science?
Data science is the collection, interpretation and analysis of big data to arrive at strategic decisions. Professionals working in data science are responsible for searching through large sets of data and extracting meaningful information that can be compiled into reports and applied as actionable insights. These professionals inform business decisions that govern millions of people and countless outcomes.
Data scientists work in a variety of industries, including accounting and finance, human resources, business and administration, information technology, marketing, advertising and sales. The typical roles and responsibilities of a data scientist include the following:
- Organise datasets and identify meaningful patterns
- Build algorithms and design experiments to extract data to benefit the wider organisation
- Create clear reports that visualise and communicate data insights in a business
- Use machine learning tools and statistical techniques to produce actionable solutions to problems
- Use insights to locate business opportunities in various departments like marketing or HR
Growth in Data Science, Analytics and Technology
The global data science, analytics and technology sector is growing fast. The big data market size is projected to increase from 138.9 billion USD in 2020 to 229.4 billion USD by 2025. This growth is also reflected in the job market. LinkedIn’s emerging job report ranks data science as the fastest growing workforce trend worldwide.
According to Hosting Tribunal, the following statistics represent the global big data market trends, analysis and growth opportunities:
- 79 percent of executives believe that failing to embrace big data will lead to bankruptcy.
- 83 percent of companies around the world invest in big data projects.
- Companies that use big data’s full power could increase their operation margins by up to 60 percent.
- The health care sector could save up to $300 billion yearly by adopting big data analytics.
- Banking, manufacturing, professional services and government invest the most in big data and data analytics, amounting to nearly 50% of the worldwide BDA revenue in one year.
The US and the UK have a strong foothold on the data and tech industry and market. The UK has the third-largest digital technology sector in the world and is considered a global technology leader, with funding and resources that continue to grow. Britain’s tech firms have acquired more venture capital funding than any other European country, collecting more than £6bn in just one year, according to Tech Nation. They also reported that UK tech is growing faster than expected and has seen the following growth:
- Investments in UK digital tech firms grew 61 percent between 2017 and 2018.
- 35 percent of Europe and Israel's 169 startup tech companies were started in the UK.
- London tech scaleups have a growth rate of 56 percent, which is the highest scaleup growth rate worldwide.
- The UK ranks fourth in the world for scaleup investments (£5bn), after the US, China and India.
The extensive opportunity, investments and growth available for tech startups in the UK creates a desirable career landscape for individuals working in the field of data science and technology, and the UK is one of many areas that offers lucrative jobs for women in statistics and data science. The US, Australia, Germany, Canada and other countries are also demanding educated data analysts, STEM professionals and tech experts to enter exciting roles.
The Gender Gap in Data and Technology
Women in data science are underrepresented, and according to BCG’s article “What’s Keeping Women Out of Data Science,” achieving diversity while building data science teams is not just favourable, it’s crucial.
Humans and machine learning algorithms work together to identify patterns in data, but they are always subject to internal biases. Women in statistics and data science roles could help mitigate these biases but if a data science team lacks gender diversity, the patterns and results garnered from data sets could lead to “dangerous conclusions”, according to BCG.
Despite the need for women in data science, BCG’s survey found that only 15 to 22 percent of all professionals in data science roles are women. If the world is being shaped by data, shouldn’t both men and women play a part in the interpretation and application of this data? Women in data science not only help shape the data-driven world, but they also see individual benefits, such as gaining access to a rapidly growing field with lucrative salary options and career opportunities.
The Gender Breakdown: Women in Statistics and Data Science Roles
Although the worldwide gender gap in data science and STEM-related roles is narrowing, there is still much work to do. A recent report found that around the world 11% of data teams are 100 percent male. The gender breakdown in data science greatly varies across the globe. As an example, the following statistics outline the existing gender breakdown in data analytics jobs in the UK and demonstrate the gender gap created by the lack of women in data science roles.
- Male: 67%
- Female: 32.8%
- Male: 68.7%
- Female: 31.1%
- Male: 78.4%
- Female: 21.4%
- Male: 50%
- Female: 50%
- Male: 54.5%
- Female: 45.5%
- Male: 61.1%
- Female: 37.7%
Why Are Women in Data Science Critical?
The fourth industrial revolution is upon us, and in this contemporary landscape where the boundaries between the physical, digital and biological worlds are blurred and technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT) are emerging, data has become a form of currency.
If data is considered a form of currency, what will the economy look like without women in data science? In BCG’s article “How AI Could Help—or Hinder—Women in the Workforce”, it is clear that AI technology could either help or hinder the existing gender gap in every industry.
AI is capable of transforming the world and disrupting traditional processes, including the way companies hire and fire employees. AI will also play a role in eliminating and creating tens of millions of jobs in numerous sectors. “AI applications can perpetuate and exacerbate gender bias, further widening the gap in the leadership pipeline. If an AI application is trained on data that is biased, the algorithms it develops will likely be biased, too,” says BCG.
Women in statistics and data science roles help mitigate biases by providing alternative perspectives when extracting patterns and building algorithms from big data. Women in data science are crucial because they help ensure that women are not left behind in a world where predetermined algorithms influence every aspect of our lives, from social media feeds to HR processes.
The Benefits of Gender Diversity for Businesses
How do women in statistics and data science roles improve businesses overall? Women in data science can improve business performance and results, contribute to shared success and encourage better team dynamics. Greater representation of women in data science roles is proven to reflect the following outcomes:
- Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to exceed national financial goals.
- Companies with greater racial and gender diversity are linked to larger market shares, and therefore, more customers and revenue.
- Teams that are racially and gender diverse exhibit higher levels of creativity.
- The most successful tech startups have two times as many women in senior positions when compared to less successful tech startups.
What Makes Data Science and Business Analytics a Desirable Career Path?
Some experts believe that data science has an image problem that deters women from entering jobs in statistics and data science. Others speculate that women wait to be “invited to the table” rather than seeking out career new opportunities.
Whatever the case, women in data science work in one of today’s fastest-growing and most exciting industries and offers women opportunities for career growth. Women who pursue a degree in business analytics stand on the frontlines of a significant movement in data and technology.
LinkedIn released the 2020 Emerging Jobs Report and found that there has been a huge growth in the technology sector in the UK. The US report also found that data science is starting to replace “legacy roles”.
The report found that a data scientist role was among the top three emerging roles in 2020. A role as a data scientist was listed as the top emerging job in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and other regions, proving that industry growth is international. Women in data science roles gain access to numerous job opportunities, a rewarding salary and an optimistic job outlook.
Data Analytics Jobs
- Business analyst
- Data analyst
- Data scientist
- Management analyst
- Marketing research analyst
- Operations research analyst
Data Analytics Salary Range
- Business analyst: £24k - £53k per year
- Data analyst: £20k - £40k per year
- Data scientist: £27k - £60 per year
- Management analyst: £20k - £63k per year
- Marketing research analyst: £20k - £40 per year
- Operations research analyst: £24k - £31k per year
Data analytics is a fast-growing field globally, with numerous job opportunities available to qualified professionals. The World Economic Forum (WEF) mapped out opportunities in the emerging labour market and found that data analysts ranked fifth in the top ten emerging jobs in data and AI.
The WEF identified seven emerging profession clusters and data analysis was listed as a high-priority skill in four of these clusters, including “Data and AI”, “Green Professions”, “Marketing, Sales and Content” and “People and Culture”.
In another report by the WEF, researchers found that a data analyst position is predicted to be one of the most in-demand jobs by 2022. Their research identified the following trends in hiring data and technology experts:
- 97% of employers plan to hire permanent staff with skills relevant to new technologies.
- 91% of employers plan to adopt user and entity big data analytics.
- Data analysts and scientists rank in the top ten emerging jobs.
- Talent availability is the primary determining hiring factor in the information and communications industry.
These recent reports indicate that the job outlook for women in statistics and data science is propitious and rewarding. Talented women with in-demand data analysis skills can break into a variety of emerging profession clusters and market themselves to companies that have recently acquired big data technology.
Women in Data Science Case Study: Sonia Chang
Sonia Chang is a digital marketing specialist and business analytics masters student from Aston University. Sonia has worked in the digital marketing field for seven years and recognised that in the last four years her role was increasingly focussed on the analysis and interpretation of data.
Sonia decided to pursue a masters in the area of business analytics to learn essential technical skills like programming languages, data analytics software and effective management consulting in the data and technology space.
She reflects on her experience fondly and says, “I would recommend this programme because the courses I have taken so far cover many key foundations you need if you want to pursue a career in business analytics. With the assignments, you are essentially building yourself a portfolio which can be useful to showcase when you are applying for work in this field.”
Working professionals like Sonia can complete their degree 100 percent online, join virtual classrooms and connect with international students and other women in statistics and data science. Sonia lives and works in Canada, and the flexibility of the programme has allowed Sonia to continue growing in her current role while planning for the future. This is one of the major draws of the programme for international students.
Sonia is interested in using her newfound knowledge to move into a data analyst position. She is a prime example of how women in data science can use the opportunities, support and credentials acquired from an online MSc Business Analytics degree to realise career mobility.
The Future for Women in Data Science
The future of women in data science depends on women who not only occupy roles in the industry but excel in executive roles and leadership positions in the data science and analytics space. Women in data science positions need education and confidence to pursue influential leadership positions.
The conversation about women in data science and the gender gap in technology has largely discussed the dangers of male-dominated workplace culture, the lack of mentorship provided to women and the misconceptions about what it’s like to work in data, however, researchers are now examining how a lack of confidence is a major obstacle for women in statistics and data science.
The Importance of Education
In the Guardian, Nicola Anderson, the chief marketing officer at MyTutor, a London-based tech firm says, “As in other industries, women in tech often won’t apply for a job if they don’t feel they’re 100% qualified or have exactly the right experience, as a result, women end up moving horizontally where their male peers progress.” Building the confidence to apply for these roles and claim a seat at the table starts with education.
Women in data science should be prepared with the technical skills needed to become meaningful contributors and culture-shaping leaders in data analytics roles.
The future of business analytics and data science is a conversation that must include gender representation. The future of women in data science will ideally be a place where there is equal gender representation in leadership positions and a diversified perspective in transformative conversations about AI, technology and the resulting data-informed decisions.
Pursue a Career in Big Data With Aston University
The online MSc Business Analytics programme at Aston University welcomes students in entry-level analytical and project management roles, as well as those who are further along in their careers and aspire to leadership positions.
The curriculum is relevant to multiple industries and the faculty support provides women in data science with the mentorship needed to build confidence and leadership skills. The online business analytics masters at Aston University grants every student the following:
- 100 percent online programme
- Flexible study options for working professionals
- Affordable quality degree from a triple-accredited school (accredited by AACSB, AMBA and Equis)
- A global network of more than 90,000 alumni
- 82 percent employability rating after graduation
Learn more about how a career in business analytics will increase your employability, salary and career outlook.