While still relatively new, the field of data science experiences disproportionate gender representation, where men hold a majority of data science positions. Efforts have been made to steadily address this noticeable gender gap. However, progress has been slow. According to a 2020 Borsch Works Study, the percentage of women in data science roles increased to 36% in 2020. In 2015, women accounted for only 28% of data science roles.
To help address the gender gap in data science, ENTITY Academy has partnered with Woz U to create the Data Science Virtual Academy. The program aims to help women build careers in data science. Curriculum and instruction are provided by Woz U and soft skills and mentorship opportunities are provided by ENTITY Academy.
Two current data science students in the program, Jennifer Galo and Leticia Guido, recently took part in the Woz U x ENTITY Academy Fireside Chat. Hannah Dobrogosz, a former ENTITY mentee and a current writer at Buzzfeed, moderated the event.
During the Fireside Chat, the women shared insights on the program and some of their personal goals. They also gave several reasons why the program stood out to them, notably pointing to the ever-expanding curriculum, minimal experience qualifications and plentitude of career and mentorship services.
No Tech Experience Necessary
Neither Guido nor Galo had previous tech experience or education when they began the Data Science Virtual Academy. Galo had previously worked teaching abroad, and Guido was a businesswoman.
However, both shared that the program provides a steady foundation of core data science concepts. For example, some courses and hard skills taught include statistics, SQL, Python, machine learning, and data visualization. Many of the skills are required by data roles like database administrators, database architects, and business intelligence analysts.
Furthermore, even someone who doesn’t have any experience could enter the program and do well, said Guido.
“Regardless of age, whether you just graduated from college or if you are somebody that is 50 or 60 and you have experience in a specific industry in a specific field, you can apply what you already know in that niche and then add data science,” said Guido.
Guidance and Independence
With Galo’s busy work schedule, she has mainly studied during the nighttime. But even when she had trouble understanding a lesson or getting through an assignment, she could look at videos and slideshows that explained concepts.
Galo also noted that the program encourages students to be independent first and then ask for help if needed. She could schedule 30-minute calls with mentors to help break down and explain any questions that she had.
Guido, who also has to attend to her business and responsibilities as a parent, worked in small time blocks throughout the week. Guido shared that she received tons of support from everyone in the program. Whether it was the instructor of a course, a mentor, or CEO, she said that she felt everyone involved cared about making sure that their students succeeded.
A Plentitude of Mentorship and Career Services
The ENTITY Forum connects students with fellow peers. They can share experiences and get support from other women who plan to pursue a career in data science.
The ENTITY Academy Mentor Network allows students to meet and talk to leaders in the data science and STEM fields. Some speakers will partake in Fireside Chats, where they speak on topics relevant to their careers.
Students can network with mentors and build invaluable connections that can help with their future career paths. Guido shared that the mentorship offering was an area that stood out to her when she looked at different data science programs.
Finding a mentor can also be a great decision for career success and satisfaction. According to a 2019 CNBC/Survey Monkey Workplace Happiness Survey, 91% of workers who had a mentor were satisfied with their jobs.
Ahead of the Curve
Another feature that stood out to both students during the program was the fact that the Woz U curriculum updates to ensure students are engaging in a productive learning experience.
Due to the pandemic, technology has accelerated in many companies. Companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Intel are shifting to prioritize reskilling and upskilling to provide new job opportunities. For students, this also means learning and adapting to the ebbs and flows of tech advancements.
With a curriculum that teaches the newest skills and prepares students for the future, they can focus more on their goals.
“It’s really nice being at the forefront where I can use all of my varied experiences to actually benefit my position in data science,” said Galo.
Galo said she hopes to pursue a career that combines data science with some of her other passions: sustainability and community.
Learning from the ENTITY Academy #WomenThatDo
Pursuing a career in data science doesn’t have to be challenging or overwhelming. Reflecting on their experiences, both women shared that deciding to pursue education in data science would be a good move for the next stage in their careers.
For Guido, it became clear that data science would work well with her education in marketing. If you’re interested in exploring a career in data science, Guido said, “Eventually, you’ve got to take that leap.”
Galo shared a similar sentiment. When she became interested in data science, she attended conferences and found herself primarily among men. Rather than be discouraged, Galo decided that if there weren’t any women there, she wanted to be a trendsetter and create a path that bridges together data science with community involvement.
Both took the chance and explored data science because they realized how valuable it has become in every industry.
As data science only continues to grow, it will continue to be applied in every industry and revolutionize the world of work.
Sophia Acevedo is a journalist based in Southern California. She is a 2020 graduate from California State University, Fullerton, and a proud Daily Titan alum.