How long have you been a Data Scientist and what inspired you to be one?
I’ve been a data Scientist give or take 2 years plus, I love control- being in control of my future and destiny so when I heard about statistics and the fact that I could literally predict my future; if I have enough data! I was like yes! This is the place for me and naturally, it progressed into data science and now engineering!
What are the specific challenges you face at work, that you can directly tie to gender bias?
I really love where I work, It’s not perfect but I think I’m very fortunate there are not a lot of challenges I face because I’m a woman. There always is the occasional casual sexism where people think I do not have knowledge on something or I can’t speak on a particular topic because I’m a woman but I consider myself rather fortunate to have lots of women in positions of power to make changes and amplify our voices where it matters.
How do you currently deal with these “casual sexism” challenges?
I used to always feel the need to prove myself, that I am not just a pretty face however I no longer do, I feel comfortable using my voice — which doesn’t necessarily mean having to speak, for me, it means choosing what to speak on and what is inconsequential, but where there’s the occasional sexism I check it right there and then. I’m not afraid to rock the boat.
That also means I strive to be the best! The best on my team! So you cannot deny the effort and results I produce — that means I do my due diligence I feel like there’s more to prove ie I can tell our compute guys there’s an issue with a server and I’m dismissed, not until I come with rock-solid proof am I then attended to for my male colleagues it’s a lot different he just has to say something is wrong and then boom everyone runs to check. This is mostly because they go you’re a girl what do you know about servers.
What do you do to always stay ahead and stay relevant in your area of expertise?
I read a lot of articles, I try to stay on top of industry trends as well. I also try not to stretch myself too thin; especially when you’re in tech that is very broad it’s preferable if you choose a path. I have chosen a path and I am sticking to it come what may. I like to tell myself that I’m not a Jack of all trades I only concern myself with knowing what would make me more successful in my chosen field however whatever project you get assigned is a chance to learn so I learn whatever I need to know to do the best possible job on every project
Can you share your honest opinion on the gender gap in the tech space, especially with Engineers (Software and Data), Machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence experts, being mostly men?
I think as far as gender inequality exists women are always going to be playing catch-up.
The availability of safe spaces is another factor, where they are only a few people who are willing to teach you without asking for anything in return
In what way/ways do you think the Tech space can let women “shine”, in line with inclusiveness and dealing with these gender biases?
I first like us to reflect on how far we’ve come. Some 100–150 years ago women couldn’t own property, vote, get an education, get divorced, some jobs were reserved exclusively for men and women are still being paid significantly less than men for the same role. So yes we’ve come so far but there’s so much to be done.
First and foremost I’d like us to acknowledge our biases — do you think that woman is bossy because she speaks her mind? Do you think she is assertive just because she wants things done a certain way? Do you think she’s difficult because she asks hard questions or wants the due process followed?
It’s up to all of us especially the men to consciously MAKE SPACE and fight together for what is good and right — if everyone has the same rights and freedoms then society can grow and develop in a way that benefits everyone so let’s stop stereotyping and also stop taking undue advantage of your privilege. I’d prefer that instead of us practicing tokenism we choose to grant everyone access to opportunities regardless of gender. Women are still in minority in tech so choose deliberately to hire qualified women to your workforce and celebrate their achievements. When I was learning data science I was very fortunate to have safe spaces and higher up’s — “industry leaders ” within the industry and I was offered access to a hub for months without pay. This is why safe spaces are important where women can hone their craft and be whatever they want to be and if you and I do our part, and make concessions, especially for women.
Do you think women are honestly not interested in this line of work? Just curious.
I think there’s a stereotype attached to tech like “tech is hard”, “I’m not from a stem background so companies wouldn’t want to hire me” I think the more we do to demystify these stereotypes, the more women we would have in tech.
There are also women who are genuinely not interested and that’s okay too