Women working in senior positions in Scotland’s burgeoning data industry are divided on how best to tackle the sector’s gender equality issue.
The Women In Data project, led by the £661 million Data-Driven Innovation programme, interviewed almost 60 women working in a range of different high-profile roles in the sector.
The programme aims to train 100,000 people in data skills over the next decade, from computer science specialists to traditional jobs that will increasingly use data.
Poppy Gerrard-Abbott, the project leader and a sociology tutor at the University of Edinburgh, said differences of opinion emerged about what women see as the main problem in achieving equality of opportunity in the data world.
She told the Scotsman that some people regard it as a skills gap issue because women are socialised into and steered towards specific school subjects and careers.
They think the challenge is upskilling women and girls, building confidence and delivering more initiatives to keep that science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) pipeline going, to get women into data science and related professions, and then get them to stay.
Others think the main problem is a toxic workplace culture, which normalises historical male dominance.
Gerrard-Abbott added: “Some say the solution does not lie with upskilling, as girls and women are highly competent and suited to STEM, but rather changing the culture to value the ways women work and encourage women to enter and stay.
"Change lies in women not being subjected to discrimination or higher workloads, or being overlooked for promotion, sponsored less or paid less than male counterparts. Currently, STEM workplaces are not always right for women – rather than women not being right for them.”