Diversifying Data: Tackling the gender divide at its roots

Naomi Cruden, People & Projects Executive at Amplifi, discusses the gender gap in the data industry and what Amplifi is doing to contribute to the shift that the industry desperately needs.

Would it shock you if you heard that only 22% of the data industry is made up of women?¹

Or that women only hold 12% of all executive positions in the industry?¹

Diversity and Inclusion is a hot topic across all spectrums of society, and it’s no different here in the data industry. We definitely know that diversity is not just about gender, we understand that diversity is SO much more than gender: representation of people from ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ and other demographics in the data industry also receive a lot of criticism. This article is the result of lots of observations, conversations, trying to recruit diverse talent into Amplifi, and speaking to women within the industry.

Only in November last year, our Head of People & Culture, Dan Malins, wrote an article on Amplifi’s dedication to improving diversity and inclusion across all variants. In a survey at the time, 100% of the team agreed that everyone at Amplifi is treated fairly, regardless of race, gender, age, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or any other differences²… but that doesn’t mean that we’re finished working on D&I.

One thing we want to acknowledge head on, is that Amplifi is made up of a gender split 19% female, 81% male – this is not good enough.

Like many technology/data companies, we have an on-going challenge when it comes to recruiting diverse talent. Advertised roles in data and AI are at an all-time high, data professionals are in high demand, and with that comes problematic dynamics. It is fantastic to see our industry thriving, but it provides challenges for recruitment and sourcing diverse talent.

I am pleased to say that creating a diverse and inclusive working environment is a goal shared across the Amplifi team, we are all committed to doing better, acknowledging our biases, and contributing to the industry’s growth.

We see great value in having a diverse team and want to ensure we have created an inclusive environment for everyone to thrive in.

Diversity Female Hex

While there have been significant efforts across the wider Data & Analytics sector over the past few years to increase the gender balance, Harnham’s most recent UK diversity research found that in the last year the percentage of female professionals has dropped from 30% to 28%¹. Female representation in specifically ‘data & technology’ sits at 22%, which saw no increase in 2021¹. Also, around 10% of data teams do not have any women in them³. When we look deeper into the types of roles that those 22% of women hold, the ratio of women in top positions like CEO, Senior Executives, Senior Level Management authorities is extremely low when compared to that of men³. From 40% of Entry-level roles to 24% of Heads of’s and 12% of Executives, there is a consistent and significant drop off in female talent¹.

Having no positive movement of the number of women in our sector across a full year is disappointing, as although all the right conversations are being had and there is effort being made, it’s not having a significant enough impact.

We’re seeing the industry’s issues first-hand

We recently set out to recruit for our Academy - our way of training people from early on in their data careers.

We opened this to graduates, post-grads, or people wanting to make a career change, hoping this would bring in a more diverse applicant pool. However, only 18% of the applicants were female, showing that whilst there is a challenge in recruiting people already in the industry, this is trickling down to younger generations too.

Tackling the problem at its roots

Statistics give the impression that the gender gap within the data industry is stagnating, and it’s clear that more needs to be done to drill down into the cause of the gender disparity.

To be able to see more women entering the STEM sectors, there needs to be more encouragement at a younger age. We need to be empowering young women to overcome the ‘STEM cliff’ - this is a decrease in STEM engagement that has been statistically observed from girls in middle-school through to young women. It creates a ripple effect, where a few years down the line STEM is overwhelmingly male dominated⁴.

Tackling the problem at a young age must be the answer here! Young girls need to be supported to feel confident and educated enough, so they know they can pursue a career in the data industry.

Education and introducing girls to tech from an early age is the first step we want to be involved in. Amplifi have recently started a partnership with a charity, The Girls’ Network, who engage with young students from disadvantaged backgrounds, encouraging them into more diverse workplaces.

64% of girls, and 54% of young women do not know a woman in a STEM profession⁵. This is crucial, as when girls learn about real-world STEM jobs and how they can be used to help the world, their perception of the creativity and positive impact of STEM careers can more than double⁵. By introducing girls to women who have had successful careers in data, this could make a significant impact!

Leaves hex Diversity

The Girls’ Network connects girls with a mentor and networks of professional role models who are women. Amplifi are there to be a window into the data industry. We are committing to working with the charity by running web-based sessions this coming year and delivering classes to members of The Girls’ Network to educate them on the successful careers of women in Amplifi, and our female connections in the data industry. Influencer culture is increasingly prevalent for younger generations, and we hope that by demonstrating real-world examples of women’s career paths from school, up to where they are now, and being there as an approachable network for the girls, it will allow them to feel inspired and empowered to consider a data as a career.

So, why is data a good career for women?

Firstly, data is a good career for EVERYONE. But as this article is focused on women, let’s start there. Having spoken to lots of women within the industry, including Pauline Kirk, Jenny Bicket, Lien Bailey and Catherine Cherry, there were quite a few key benefits of working within data that were highlighted:

Flexibility: Amplifi have been awarded a certification by Flexa as one of the top 50 most flexible companies – this is something all of us are passionate about. Not only that but we were recently awarded no.34 in the top 100 most flexible companies in the world. We understand that there are lots of aspects of our team’s personal lives that must come before work, and therefore have created a truly flexible working environment so they can get the balance right.

Variety: If you speak to any of our consultants, they will say that no day looks the same. If you enjoy variety in your role and working on different projects, then Amplifi, and data, is absolutely the right environment.

Impact: We value each and every member of the team. Regardless of your role, job title or visibility, you, and your work are recognised and valued.

What is Amplifi doing?

We’ve mentioned a couple of ways we are reaching out to the young women, to educate and mentor them on a career in data. But there is more that we’re doing internally to make Amplifi more attractive and inclusive for women…

  • In the last year we have increased the gender gap from 10% to 19% female.
  • We have researched and spent time re-wording job adverts to make them more approachable, as typically women will not apply to jobs if they do not tick all of the boxes.
  • Introducing comprehensive diversity and inclusion training for our whole team.
  • We have worked on our marketing to showcase our flexibility and family-oriented culture, which is something we’ve had fantastic feedback on from female applicants.
  • The People Team are continuously reviewing policies and looking at improving benefits. For example, we have recently announced a ‘Work from Anywhere’ policy and increased our maternity leave policy to 5 months full pay (previously 4 months).
  • We have set up a quarterly D&I Committee, meeting with members from throughout the business, to discuss what more we could be doing to contribute to our D&I efforts and make actionable improvements.

Is it enough? No. Are we stopping there? No.

We understand ‘women in data’ is a well discussed topic, and there are no quick fixes to the challenges we face. However, we are here and willing to contribute to the shift that the industry desperately needs, and will continue to try and make a difference from our corner of the data world. Hopefully we have showcased why Amplifi IS such a brilliant place to work for women, and why we should be focusing efforts on younger generations to start thinking about data as a career, and building a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Amplifi Naomi Blog Image

About the author

Naomi Cruden is People & Projects Executive at Amplifi.

She is an integral part of our People & Culture team and is Amplifi’s internal D&I champion, responsible for establishing and leading our Diversity & Inclusion committee, to ensure that Amplifi is a welcoming and inclusive place for the people who currently work here and anybody who is looking to join.

If you would like to apply for a role at Amplifi, please click here.