International Women’s Day: A year of #QBalance

QuantumBlack
Mar 6 · 5 min read

A year ago on International Women’s Day 2019 we launched #QBalance; our commitment to improving gender parity across our company, and to being an active player in enabling more women to enter the data industry.

While we haven’t yet reached our end goal, we are incredibly proud to be reporting progress; in London 50% of our new data science hires were women, a 28% increase on the previous year. In data engineering, 33% of our new hires in London were female, a number we are working to increase by the end of 2020.

TOWARDS PARITY

Our progress hasn’t come without hard work and focus. Last year marked our biggest investment to date in this area with a number of initiatives being created, coordinated and supported by our people. In the UK, we partnered with Women in Data at their November conference, where we ran a breakout session on Causality and Fairness in Machine Learning and delivered a keynote to an audience of women in the early stages of their data careers.

In the US, we ran our second annual Women Transforming Tech event in Boston, attended by 70 women working across data science, data engineering and software engineering. We also hosted a Women of NeurIPS dinner in collaboration with Women in Machine Learning, providing a space for networking and discussion away from the show.

Whilst connecting and encouraging women across the industry is important to us, we certainly don’t forget our responsibility for enabling new hires to be successful when they join us. So it was incredibly exciting to see three of our long-standing UK team members be awarded industry accolades for their achievements last year:

LOOKING AHEAD

There is plenty of work still to do to achieve true gender parity in our organisation, and outside of it there is still a job to be done to encourage more women into data careers, so this year we continue our commitment and work to progress even further.

The 8th of March marks International Women’s Day, and we are gearing up for a busy month! It all kicks off this week when we’ll be hosting our lunch with Women in Data, discussing the underrepresentation of women in the data sector and the collective actions we can take to address this. We are thrilled to be joined by an eminent group of industry leaders at this event and look forward to a rich discussion.

As we go through 2020 we’ll be forming more partnerships with groups that are as committed to this area as we are. In particular, we will be helping drive “early funnel” tech skills in the UK, starting by growing our work with Code First: Girls and the Python for Data Science training course we’ve launched together to provide training in employable skills to women looking to enter the data industry.

Finally, following the improvements we’ve made in data science hiring diversity in London, we’ll be working to match that in our other global offices and across other business areas.

FOLLOWING IN HER FOOTSTEPS

Role models are essential to encouraging diversity into traditionally non-diverse sectors, so in celebration of all that we’ve achieved in the last 12 months, we are proud to share the stories of Huong, Bhagya and Ines, who share inspiring stories of how they started their careers in data.

Huong Nguyen, Front-end Engineer, QuantumBlack

“My first experience of data science was a course in September 2017 with CodeFirst: Girls. I’d joined after doing my Business Management degree and worked in different marketing agencies. I never anticipated a career in technology but I was curious about why women are so underrepresented in the sector. I enrolled on a two month “Introduction in Web Development” course with CodeFirst: Girls to learn more. After discovering a new found passion for coding I decided to pursue a career in technology.

I took my career journey into my own hands, enrolling in a series of online self-study courses and attending a variety of London meetups and workshops. Within a year, I’d secured a front-end engineer position at QuantumBlack. I’m now helping other women at all stages in their careers to break into the data science industry.

I believe anyone of any background can pursue a career in technology if they receive the right training. I introduced QuantumBlack to CodeFirst: Girls, and helped establish our inaugural Python training course, as well as becoming a regular instructor for CodeFirst: Girls and Codebar. I encourage everyone to stay curious and open to new opportunities — you never know what the future could hold.”

Bhagya Annapareddy, Principal Data Engineer, QuantumBlack

“I joined the data industry at a later stage in life than many of my peers. I had initially enrolled in a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science following school — however, I paused my studies at twenty years old to marry and become a mother. I was driven to continue my education, and so returned to university at twenty two to complete a degree before gaining a first class Masters degree in mathematics.

After working briefly in software in Zurich and India, I eventually transitioned into data engineering.

This experience has shaped my belief that anyone can pursue a career in data with the required support, and I am now committed to making the data industry more accessible to women around the world. At QuantumBlack, I oversee the recruitment diversity policy and facilitate a vast range of internal and external conferences and events for women working in data.”

Ines Marusic, Senior Data Science Consultant, QuantumBlack

“As a student in Croatia, I took part in lots of maths competitions. I initially assumed my career path would be to become a university professor in mathematics, but soon realised I was more interested in machine learning and data science.

At the University of Oxford, I quickly found there weren’t many women in the maths department. Determined to bring together those who had a common interest in computer science, I started the Oxford Women’s Computer Science Society together with a handful of others.

It started off with social events before it incorporated external speakers and then eventually a full conference once it caught the attention of other groups. Since then it has grown and grown. Having seen many internships come about directly from connections people have made at conferences, I am truly passionate about the power of collaboration.”

QuantumBlack

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An advanced analytics firm operating at the intersection of strategy, technology and design. www.quantumblack.com @quantumblack

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