Active listening can broaden channels of communication and sometimes you have to ask for forgiveness, rather than permission before making a bold move. This is especially the case when taking the initiative to bring more diversity into an organisation, as delegates at the Women in Data 2017 conference were told.
One point that was strongly emphasised was the power of the networking and peer support. When an attendee asked the panel if there was a female equivalent to the "Old Boys’ Club" that women could take advantage of in the data workplace, the response was: “Look around you right now.”
Everyone present was encouraged to connect, contact, share, guide and collaborate with each other. The result would be having people to look to for advice, feedback, honest criticism or praise.
But after the conference ends, where can these connections and collaborations take place? To start with, Women in Data has a Linkedin group. Furthermore, there are several groups that arrange their meetings through Meetup. Most of the ones I’ve found are based in and around London, but no matter your location, it still might be worth joining to participate in the online discussions.
The London-based Inspiring Women in Data Science has 500 members and has had several events throughout the year, including one this month at the Data and Statistics Division of the Bank of England. There’s also Women in Data and Data Plus Women both with over 1000 members.
In addition, there are other groups that focus on specialisms within data science. One such group is the AI Club for Gender Minorities. Another is RLadies for women who write in R, with in-person groups in London and Cambridge. PyLadies, an international mentorship group for women who code in Python has chapters in London, Edinburgh and Dublin.
Looking at a broader perspective, there are several Women and Technology groups and Women in Data and Analytics would come under that umbrella. Ada’s List – named after Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer - is a large one with over 5,000 members. One of the co-founders, Anjali Ramachandran, explained in October why it is so great. One for women in the Sussex area is Brighton Digital Women.
And for those who want to switch off from data work, but not completely, there is the Women in Tech Book Club. Discussions can take place on its Slack channel, so location is no barrier to participation.
This list is by no means exhaustive, so please leave a comment if you know of, are part of or help to co-ordinate a group that support female data professionals.