6point6 established the Women Excelling in Data network by hosting the first event in 2022 born out of the desire to connect women working in data from across the industry. Its co-founder, Paloma Rebuelta, sat down with Maggie Wang from Bumble Inc., one of the speakers at this year’s event, who shared her insights about the value of such a network. Paloma also spoke to 6point6’s Junior Data Engineer, Ayan Warsame, who attended last year’s event, to find out what drew her to the world of data and 6point6.
Data science is still perceived largely as a man’s world. This mindset manifests itself in many ways that can hold back women from succeeding in the industry. The narrative is shifting as more women join the sector, however underrepresentation in top positions still remains a massive stumbling block. The industry needs to adapt and become more inclusive, as it does at times feel like I am the only woman at the table. This is why I co-founded Women Excelling in Data. I want a space where we can come together, women and allies alike, to share experiences, become a collective and make change happen. Everyone is welcome to come along and be part of this exciting network, regardless of whether you’re just starting your career in data or an established professional.
Alan Turing is celebrated as one of the founding fathers of data science, yet the achievements of Frances Steen, Virginia Aderholt and Elizabeth Smith Friedman as successful World War codebreakers barely get a citation. We need more spaces to showcase our impact and celebrate our achievements which is one of the reasons for setting up Women Excelling in Data. This is only the beginning. Working with our other co-founder Isobel Daley, we have an ambition for the network to build partnerships across the industry, host regular breakfast sessions beyond our annual gathering which took place in September and much more. This is certainly not an overcrowded space! We need more events and networking opportunities across our industry, particularly in data.
Networking events like Women Excelling in Data won’t crack the industry’s glass ceiling but they will help women like me working in data to make those critical connections and create a powerful collective. The industry lacks senior role models, which in turn affects how we view our individual career paths as we have no one to look up to. Participating in these events becomes a professional lifeline. It’s more valuable when we come together to fix industry-wide problems than being apart.
Data is an exciting career path to take particularly when it’s spearheading so many innovations across industry sectors. When I think about the online dating market I can see that data is helping us accelerate our learning about human behaviour, powering many improvements to our platform and ultimately helping people make better connections. The industry needs to test out new ways to recruit diverse talent. Initiatives like blind hiring are making an impact but if companies want to get their house in order, we need them to take action. Women Excelling in Data is the perfect forum to spark our collective imagination that a better tomorrow is within our reach.
‘There is pressure on industry leaders to act. There are many voices extolling the value of diversity but how much of it is still a PR exercise? We need to start seeing real improvement because having different perspectives around the table is far more likely to drive innovation. But ultimately it will also enrich our workplace and create a better sense of belonging.’
I was blown away by the first Women Excelling in Data event and influenced my decision to jump into a career in data after graduating in physics. What stood out for me attending the first conference is that data is a growing industry that touches many sectors with a variety of roles and opportunities.
Tech was something I considered as a career path, particularly when data heavily featured in my dissertation when I needed to simulate the universe and its infinite galaxies. Big data has been a massive draw for me ever since. I am the direct beneficiary of the Women Excelling in Data event, not only was it a great introduction to a career in data but it landed me my current job. 6point6 is not just where I work, they take great care in making me feel part of a community even when I am off site working on client projects. They make sure you stay connected, not to mention their emphasis on continuous learning and development.
‘Networking opportunities provided by Women Excelling in Data opened my eyes to the benefits of working in data and how important it is to build a community and connect with and learn from other women in my field.’
The Women Excelling in Data event series is a 6point6 initiative celebrating and empowering female professionals in data. This networking event is designed to bring together industry professionals, aspiring data scientists, and enthusiasts alike to foster connections, share experiences, and empower each other. Whether they are looking to advance in data or connect with peers, this event offers a unique opportunity to gain insights, exchange ideas, and build a strong network of like-minded women excelling in data.
Bumble Inc. is the parent company of Bumble, Bumble for Friends, Badoo, Fruitz
and Official. The Bumble platform enables people to build healthy and equitable relationships, through Kind Connections. Founded by CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd in 2014, Bumble was one of the first dating apps built with women at the center and connects people across dating (Bumble Date), friendship (Bumble For Friends) and professional networking (Bumble Bizz). Badoo, which was founded in 2006, is one of the pioneers of web and mobile dating products. Fruitz, founded in 2017, encourages open and honest communication of dating intentions through playful fruit metaphors. Official is an app for couples that promotes open and honest communication between partners and was founded in 2020.
Maggie Wang is a machine learning scientist at Bumble. As a member of the Data Science User Experience team, she works to help people find meaningful connections by developing graph-based solutions and applications. She also actively works to develop and promote responsible AI in the organisation. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, followed by an MPhil in Machine Learning. Ayan Warsame is a Junior Data Engineer at 6point6 and an advocate for women in stem. Her day to day work looks at improving data quality for our clients.