Today’s Q&A is with Anna Kirkland Smith founder of the Data Scientista Society located here in the research triangle, NC.
I only asked Anna one question, but her response definitely inspired a couple new cartoons. Plus I think many of you will be able to relate.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for women in the data industry?
The biggest challenge for women in the data industry is that the numbers are hurting their feelings.
Once there was a girl who found a refuge beyond a beauty pageant, beyond a kickball field, and arguing parents: math homework. Every assailant was powerless against these laws of the universe accessible to small hands with mere pencil and paper.
But now as a woman on the way to work, when she hears women get paid (best case) 93 cents on the dollar. She knows that could mean some women are paid spot on, but some are woefully underpaid. She’s an accurate estimator of where she falls on that spectrum. She knows this plays out materially in women’s lives: fewer choices in how to care for herself or someone she loves.
With women comprising less than 20% of leadership anywhere, no fundamental changes are on horizon (calculated to be 112 years away). When she opens her Windows machine at work, she reads, “Only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees,” which actually reads _if you choose to be a STEM women, you will be alone_. And looking at the data around the room, that appears to be true. What was once her power, pleasure, and play is now an unseen hand calculating her doom.
Also, Chris, you didn’t ask, but we are friends, so:
The biggest challenge for women in computer science is that they have been abandoned by their own language. The professor says a-ray, not array, and it isn’t an assortment; a table doesn’t have 4 or more legs perpendicular to a plane; an appliance is no longer refrigerator; WoW is an MMORPG; there’s not a 9th part of speech that warns that the conversation has switched to video games and no longer on tonight’s scheduled product upgrade; all statements now end in a semicolon; A woman looks around the room, and there is no mother to help her learn this new language; in fact, her mother tongue doesn’t work here; the sign in the break room said so.