Women in Data Science – Positive Imagery for the Win

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Unfortunately, I didn’t look at the announcement page for tomorrow’s SF Data Science Meetup until today, so this post is probably too late in terms of getting people to attend. But I absolutely love the image that they are using to publicize the talk.

A person’s mind generalizes to the images and associations they see most often, and computer science and technology are unfortunately quite skewed when it comes to gender. The articles on the hostile and unwelcome environment that women programmers face today — in 2014! — are numerous and depressing.

Fortunately, this seems to be less of an issue for women in data science. I know quite a few great women data scientists, and as far as I know, none of us have had any “bro” type issues with clients or colleagues. On the other hand, the two times that I taught EMC’s Data Science and Big Data Analytics course, the classes were entirely male. Respectful to me — but all male.

Perhaps this just means that women are more likely to choose academic programs rather than professional certification courses, or perhaps the makeup of the EMC course has become more balanced. I hope so. Keeping the field gender-balanced (and diverse in all other ways, as well) is the best way to maintain a positive environment for everyone who chooses this profession.

So it’s good to see a conscious effort to associate data science with female practitioners. Not because men shouldn’t be data scientists too, but rather to eradicate the idea that women shouldn’t be. In fact, that’s one of the reasons we chose a woman for the cover of our book. Thanks to the organizers of the SF Data Science Meetup for doing this.

About nzumel
I dance. I'm a data scientist. I'm a dancing data scientist. In my spare time, I like to read folklore (and research about folklore), ghost stories, random cognitive science papers, and to sometimes blog about it all.

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