History favours the bold - and the technological developments of the last few centuries have been teeming with bold women. Think: Ada Lovelace, who created the world’s first computer algorithm, or Katherine Johnson, whose orbital mechanics calculations enabled the first manned space expedition, or the codebreakers at Bletchley Park, without whom WWII might have ended differently. More recently, we’ve got women like Katie Bouman, who led the development of the black hole imaging algorithm, or Sophie Wilson, a leading computer scientist and developer of smartphone technology, or Fei-Fei Li, one of the most well-recognised researchers in the field of artificial intelligence.
Hundreds of ground-breaking technological accomplishments and innovations of the last few centuries have been attributed to women, yet STEM industries and studies still remain male dominated. It’s a society-wide problem, yes, but we reckon it’s a solvable one. As part of our vision of analytics empowerment, Datamine strives to empower women of all ages to shift this dynamic, both through our own internal policies and through external partnerships. Here’s how.
We empower our women
When it comes to hiring, Datamine’s HR team strives to avoid the unconscious gender bias that is often seen in the tech industry, and our pay is based solely on merit and value-add. We are also very purposeful in the way we write our job ads, ensuring we talk more about what the role entails rather than just the experience necessary to succeed - what we care about most is that all our candidates meet our hiring criteria of being smart, driven and humble, as well as being in line with the Datamine values.
“Research has shown that when presented with a list of necessary qualifications in a job listing, women tend to only apply if they meet 9/10 of the criteria - men, on the other hand, tend to apply even if they only meet 6/10,” explains Datamine General Manager, Michaela Swan. “We want to make sure our ads aren’t inadvertently discouraging smart and capable women, ones who might not necessarily have years of experience but do have the skills to succeed here, from applying to work with us.”
Those who join Datamine have role models at every turn - there are women in every department of the business, including all of the different tech teams and in leadership. Our mentoring programme allows new hires and existing employees to learn from and mentor one another throughout their career with the company.
Another way Datamine encourages young women into analytics is through our gender-equal graduate programme, designed for uni graduates who are keen to try out various technical roles at Datamine and get a sense for what it’s like to work in a STEM industry. The majority of our grads end up becoming long-time Dataminers, and we provide them with the same structure and support that we give to all employees - including mentoring and equal pay.
We help empower future generations of women
In addition to making sure we’re taking a proactive approach to hiring smart, driven and humble women to work for us (and supporting and empowering them in their roles), Datamine is helping tackle the root of the problem: the decrease in female STEM engagement in school. As you can see in the graph below (research from GirlBoss), the average level of interest in computer science drops from 66% in 6-12 year-old girls down to 32% in 13-17 year-olds.
Alexia Hilbertidou, CEO of GirlBoss NZ, realised the importance of addressing this gendered drop-off when she ended up being the only girl in her technology and physics classes - which she reckons tends to occur for three main reasons:
- Lack of representation
- Misconceptions of difficulty
- Lack of community
“In order to address the gender gap, we need to change the media representation of technology (search ‘coder’ in Google Images to see for yourself) and we need to encourage parents to expose their daughters to toys that foster a love for STEM,” explains Alexia. “Education is also a big component. Many all-girls high schools do not offer Technology, Physics or even Calculus classes, and the majority of young women at co-ed high schools choosing to study STEM subjects find they are the only girl in the class. This lack of community can be very isolating and increase the likelihood of them dropping out.”
Datamine has partnered with Alexia and GirlBoss in an effort to encourage young women between the ages of 13-18 to pursue STEM subjects, and to reiterate how fun and rewarding working in technology can be! We recently sponsored a GirlBoss Keynote and STEM workshop at Glendowie College in Auckland, where two of our female analysts spoke about why they love working with data and what kind of opportunities the STEM industry has to offer (see image below). The event was an honour to participate in, and the team is looking forward to future partnerships with GirlBoss.
“We are so excited to be working with Datamine to encourage young women to dream big and follow their careers in STEM!” says Alexia. “Working with Datamine, we are showing young women just how exciting a career in data analytics can be and the power it has to positively change the world.”
Hear from our female Dataminers
As you may have guessed, we’ve got some awesome women working for Datamine at different levels and across a number of teams. Here is why they love working in a STEM industry:
Olga (Data Analyst): While it’s certainly a fun bonus, working in tech is not just about sounding impressive when describing your job in obscure terms at parties! What I love about working in my industry is helping people make sense of the chaos around them (in my case, huge amounts of raw information). Taking something messy and ambiguous and turning it into useful insights that get us closer to the truth is always satisfying.
Emma (Owl): With no technical background (I studied Design and Economics), I never expected to end up in a STEM industry but I’m really glad I did! Working in the Owl team at Datamine means that not only is each day different, but I am constantly challenged and learning. The STEM industry isn’t limited to those who are purely technical - it requires creativity and the ability to think outside the box, so the combination of the two has been really fun and challenging for me.
Sally (Datamine Director): There’s a common misconception that STEM subjects and industries are boring, but I don’t think this is the case at all. They’re full of smart people, meaning it’s easy to communicate ideas and concepts quickly and be met with solid, rational decision-making. I believe my success in the tech industry is due in part to the fact that I have both common sense and communication skills as well as technical ability and rationality - it’s a winning combination that many women also have, setting them up for success in technical industries.