By Laura Malins, Product Manager, Matillion 

Gender disparity in tech is a big topic and in recent years, the technology ecosystem has tried to spread awareness about the importance of having more women in technical roles.  

For women in male-dominated data teams, it can often feel out of place and lonely to be the only woman in the room. There is still a stigma surrounding working mothers. And like most industries, women strive for a better work-life balance. 

The good news: there are plenty of opportunities for women in tech and many open roles in data.  The demand for data scientists is booming and there’s a large gap forming between the number of open data science opportunities and the skilled workers available to fill open roles.  

Companies are prioritizing the collection and analysis of the information they need for valuable business insights, which means there is no shortage of careers in data. In fact, the number of women in data is increasing, with women now accounting for 30 percent of data-related roles. 

Starting a career in data  

We need more women in data: we need their communication skills, analytical skills and we need their unique perspective. Women need to know that they can have a career in data, using the latest technologies and innovative software to recognize patterns, consolidate data sources, and provide businesses with answers.   

A career in data is a good blend of computer science, business skills and problem solving as it requires an individual to have technical skills and an inquisitive mind. Data unlocks hidden insights, validates or invalidates business hypotheses, and identifies trends through patterns.  

Whether you decide to be a data analyst, data scientist, or data engineer, you’ll want to ensure you have the ability to manage data effectively.  Data professionals learn how a business operates and gain an understanding of how different metrics, numbers, and insights can inform decision-making in different departments. 

A career in data requires constantly innovating and constantly being on the forefront of the data and new technology. So as a data professional, you’ve got to be thinking not just about what a customer’s current problems are, but where they’re going in the future and what problems they could face. You’re also looking to see where emerging technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence might take a business. 

Here are a few things to think about if you are considering a career in data: 

Be open to new opportunities 

There’s a lot more fun and excitement in STEM than women are taught in school. Get out there and try different interests and have a play with some of the things you might find that you enjoy. For example, if you are interested in data engineering, learn how to write code (such as Python), learn SQL and take business intelligence courses on Udemy. If you are more interested in data science, browse free courses on sites like Cousera or sign up for hands-on training to learn data mining and data wrangling. Explore how to align your skills and interests in the data space and find your niche.  

Keep up with the industry trends 

As with any new field or industry, there are a lot of buzzwords and acronyms to commit to memory – and more coming every day. Be on the lookout for information on the latest emerging technologies like advanced analytics, dimension modelling, machine learning, and more.  

Read industry publications and blogs by leading data solution providers and software vendors – they have glossaries or explainer videos that can help you keep up with the latest vernacular. Find a company whose technology you admire and attend webinars on their solutions and learn the business challenges that they solve. 

To find a female voice that resonates with you, take a look at these resources: 

Join or start a support group 

It’s crucial for all women in all industries to support each other. Having a role model and mentor in the field will help answer questions and provide a much-needed perspective on what you can expect in your career. A good mentor can help you navigate potential challenges and share anecdotes from real-world experiences. Mentors can show you the results of working hard, and managing your personal and work life.  

Also, consider joining Meetup groups in your community and organisations that will connect you with peers in the technology industry, and educate women in the field of data science and analytics. Some of these organisations include Women in DataWomen in Big Data, and Women in TechnologyIf you can’t find a group to join, then create one of your own!  

It’s a great time to be a data scientist entering the job market, which means there are a lot of real opportunities for women exploring a career in data. Figure out your interests and align them with your skills to carve out your own path.  

Keep an open mind about different opportunities, constantly educate yourself about industry trends and emerging technology; and join different groups to connect with other women in data. These tips will help you kick off your career in data and set you up for success.