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We Need More Women in Data Science (and Our Plan to Get There!)

Despite a global conversation about the underrepresentation of women in tech, statistics still demonstrate a male-dominated industry. As of 2018, while women made up over half of the workforce, they hold only 24% of tech jobs worldwide (Honeypot).

We Need More Women in Data Science (and Our Plan to Get There!)
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A deep rooted issue 


With many initiatives to bring women into the field and increasing numbers of women STEM graduates, the retention rate remains at the forefront of issues in this lack of diversity. The quit rate for women is over twice that of men in the  technology industry (NCWIT). Why? USA Today reports that “Toxic workplaces — where harassment, stereotyping and bullying occur — are driving away women and people of color, undercutting technology companies' efforts to increase diversity and costing an estimated $16 billion a year.” Not only does this alarming trend present a clear disadvantage for women, but tech companies themselves are also losing profits. This pervasive inequality requires reformation beyond simply increasing recruitment efforts or quotas for women.

Our work to close the tech gender gap so far


At Le Wagon, our mission is to teach tech skills to all. And for us to fulfill this mission, we believe that gender parity is essential. Since our Montréal launch in 2017, we have steadily increased the number of women in our bootcamp cohorts from 11% to 50%+. But in addition to recruiting more women for our programs, we are also tackling the retention problem in the best way we know how - by creating and contributing to a supportive community of women in tech. 


Having women mentors, role-models, and colleagues creates better company cultures and a space to both express and resolve concerns, addressing the currently elevated quit rate.


The status of women in data


As Le Wagon launches its new Data Science bootcamp, we look to bring our same gender parity efforts to the data community. In 2019, Burtch Works recruitment agency found that just 17% of data scientists are women.  The inequality issue begins in university and increases with specialization, according to a recent study conducted by BCG.
And women make great data scientists. As explained by Forbes, “women are more aware of risk… furthermore, women tend to excel at communication, team nurturing, and problem solving (internally and with clients), all of which are necessary qualifications to be a strong CDO or team leader in the field of data.” Yet, the field that the Harvard Business Review boasted as offering the “sexiest job of the 21st century,” loses 30% of qualified potential candidates in the process of moving from STEM degree holder to data science professional.

Working together for change



To combat these discouraging figures and encourage women in all stages of their careers, groups such as Women in Machine Learning and Data Science (WiMLDS) work tirelessly to promote women in the field through talks, events, hackathons, and workshops.

Sharing Le Wagon’s global mindset, WiMLDS now runs over 30 chapters around the world. United by our shared vision of gender parity in data science, we have decided to partner with WiMLDS Montréal for our upcoming Women’s Data Day

Teaching the basics of programming with Python, a popular data science language, as well as analysis of concrete business cases using real-world datasets, Women’s Data day will immerse women into the life of a data analyst.

To those who excel in these courses and feel inspired to further pursue a career in tech, we will offer 5 motivated women $CAD 1 000 off of our full-time data science bootcamp - a 9 week intensive program that will prepare students to join a data science team upon graduation. By building an open and inclusive network, encouraging women to enter the tech sphere through free introductory courses, and providing partial scholarships, we can work towards a diverse and balanced field.


Looking to the future 



With plenty of evidence that gender diversity generates more revenue, boosts business performance, and creates more innovative companies, encouraging women to enter and stay in the tech industry clearly benefits all parties. Through active efforts from all tech companies, we have the power to create an inclusive environment and provide the tools women need to thrive - furthering not only their success, but the success of the tech industry as a whole.





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