Inspired by our Women in Data Event Attendance
- 3rd December 2019
- General News
- Jess Lendon
Women in data - Thursday 28th November 2019
At Peak we are in a unique position in the data industry, in that 48% of our employees are women. This statistic is made even more impressive when you consider that in the data industry, male analysts and scientists outnumber females 4 to 1.
Women in Data UK is a movement and a force for change in the realm of data science and analytics.
Women in Data provide a platform for female and gender diverse data professionals to share their technical knowledge and experiences, and to encourage more diverse representation in the industry.
Here at Peak Indicators, we are building a connection with Women in Data, as we have a unique position on this gender divide. So, on the 28th November, we attended the Women in Data Flagship Conference for 2019. Representing Peak were Jess Lendon (Graduate BI Consultant) and Ingrid Linros Lead Data Scientist at Peak working on the development of Tallinn ML an augmented machine learning platform.
The event this year was held at The InterContinental London, just around the corner from the O2. The event was attended by a wide range of data professionals, from Data Interns at Sainsburys Data, to Senior Directors at Google. Many large multi-national companies attended and presented, including Experian, Quantum Black and BT, but there were equally many SMEs and start-ups, notably including Safe & The City, the street-smart app which can help you navigate safely.
Jess and Ingrid summarised their thoughts on the event:
This year’s theme was “Bigger, Bolder, Braver” and they are exactly the takeaways we both took from the conference. While the conference wasn’t a technical masterclass (as many conferences are), it was focused on soft skills, particularly self-awareness, communication, receptiveness to feedback and self-confidence.
So, what does “Bigger, Bolder, Braver” mean for women in data, and how will this help to level the gender disparity within the data industry?
One key focus of the conference was about finding your voice and to do this you need to find your purpose. The task of finding your purpose was summarised by Gillian Whitehead, Senior Director at Google - describing finding your purpose as “finding your inner why?”. Your inner why, being what drives you and what your values are in life. Once you have found your inner why, many speakers reiterated the importance of being your authentic self in the workplace. With the logic that finding your voice, purpose and allowing yourself to be authentic in the workplace, lead us all to be Bigger, Bolder and Braver in the workplace, which will allow women to feel driven to succeed in the data industry. This then providing inspiration for the future women in data. Which leads onto the new initiative Women in Data are launching in January 2020, “Girls in Data”. Girls in Data will focus on encouraging girls still in school to pursue STEM subjects. A very exciting initiative which we hope to be a part of in 2020.
All in all, we both left the conference feeling much more confident with a sense that we could contribute even further in all that we do at Peak. Coming away brimming with ideas of fundamental changes that we can implement in order to make Peak an even greater place to work.
Growing and succeeding, both as individuals and as a wider team - with the overarching aim of improving the service we can provide for our clients.
What Else Was Covered?
One notable speaker was Dame Stephanie Shirley. She deservedly got a standing ovation for her pioneering work of bringing women into the data industry since the 1950s. Stephanie founded Freelance Programmers from her kitchen table with just £6. At the time when a woman wasn’t allowed to work as a bus driver, or open a bank account without her husband’s permission, Stephanie exclusively employed women as software engineers. While many laughed at her, Stephanie was paving the way for women in the data industry, building one of the most cutting-edge and socially progressive companies in the country. When the company floated on the stock market for $3 billion, over 70 employees became millionaires. Her advice on rising to success despite inequitable treatment was; “deal with prejudice with humour, ensure ethics and honesty are key in all you do, and to be healthily selfish when you need to”.
There were many different sessions and workshops during the day ranging from introductory classes to programming languages (R, Python) and machine learning to building inclusive teams, leveraging mentors, networking and many more. Ingrid attended a particularly interesting workshop on causality and fairness in machine learning ran by experienced and passionate data scientists Nisara Sriwattanaworachai and Ines Marusic. The talk included practical examples on how to test for causality and what techniques to use to make sure your model is fair. Fairness, however, is not something you just leave a week for at the end of the project. You need to think about it in every single stage of the project starting from the very beginning (planning phase).
The day ended with awarding 20 impressive women among 250 nominees who have gone above and beyond with their careers in the data industry – this was truly inspiring to everyone who attended.
Each award-winner was asked to share a piece of advice that has helped them throughout the years. Advice provided ranged from staying true to yourself and not being afraid to make mistakes, to more creative insights - such as how the well-known Nike slogan “Just do it” can also be seen as “Just do IT” (which was a personal favourite!) The awards were followed with an opportunity to network with fellow attendees, sharing knowledge, best practice and discussing future innovations.
Following the success of this year’s event, Peak Indicators hope to continue and strengthen their involvement with Women in Data. If this sounds like something you feel like you would be interested in, then you can find more information about the organisation, conference and the meetups from https://womenindata.co.uk/.