INFORMS Open Forum

What's keeping women from Data Science in industry? A view from BCG & new initiative from the INFORMS Practice Section

  • 1.  What's keeping women from Data Science in industry? A view from BCG & new initiative from the INFORMS Practice Section

    Posted 10 days ago
    Edited by Jill Capello 9 days ago

    A study from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) looked at what's keeping women from data science in industry, https://www.bcg.com/publications/2020/what-keeps-women-out-data-scienceThe findings underscore the importance of activities that help students learn about the day-to-day jobs of practitioners.

    The Practice Section is addressing this gap in part with a new webinar series, "Sustaining Outstanding Analytics Organizations" organized by Arnie Greenland, where managers talk about their organizations, the types/examples of projects that their groups work on, the skill sets of the people in their groups, and the types of people they are looking to hire.  

    The next speaker in the series is Erica Klampfl, Ford Motor Company this Friday (7/16)  at noon Eastern - which should be fantastic!  To register for the free event, visit https://connect.informs.org/practice/events/upcoming-webinars , and consider sharing this event with any student groups in your network.

    thanks,



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    Robin Lougee
    Secretary, INFORMS Practice Section
    robin.lougee@gmail.com
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  • 2.  RE: What's keeping women from Data Science in industry? A view from BCG & new initiative from the INFORMS Practice Section

    Posted 9 days ago
    Wow - thank you for sharing BCG's link. Very powerful. There is a subsection (near the end of the article) titled, "Companies must do more." I could imagine we could & should write our own subsection called, "Professional associations must do more."

    I just registered for Erica's webinar tomorrow. I'm so happy that the INFORMS Practice Section is leading the way!

    Elena

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    Elena Gerstmann
    Executive Director
    INFORMS
    egerstmann@informs.org
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  • 3.  RE: What's keeping women from Data Science in industry? A view from BCG & new initiative from the INFORMS Practice Section

    Posted 9 days ago
    @Elena Gerstmann  That's great news - I'm glad you can make it to Erica's talk and experience the new INFORMS Practice Section webinar series first hand.  The organizer @Arnold Greenland is always looking for new speakers, if there's any one you want to suggest given your unique cross-INFORMS perspective.  Looking forward to seeing you at the webinar tomorrow.​​

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    Robin Lougee
    robin.lougee@gmail.com
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  • 4.  RE: What's keeping women from Data Science in industry? A view from BCG & new initiative from the INFORMS Practice Section

    Posted 9 days ago
    Edited by Sanjay Saigal 9 days ago
    Fascinating article, Robin! Please indulge my idiosyncratic/off-the-cuff reactions:
    • In the ambit of INFORMS, possibly our greatest leverage w.r.t. women's representation is in the academic arena. Specifically, hundreds of new ORMS-adjacent programs (in analytics, business analytics, data science, and variations) have been recently established, often by INFORMS members. Unfortunately, many (most?) are repurposed existing programs and/or courses. Such programs do not encourage inclusion any more than the traditional male-dominated ORMS programs/departments whence they spring. We should explore and proliferate the design and execution elements that motivate representation.
    • When new programs highlight impact and practice (rather than repeating the traditional emphasis on technique and math) they are highly successful in achieving a gender balance. [Not to brag but...] Our program (MSBA @UC Davis) is tentpoled (I know, I know but it should be a word, right?) by a substantive nine month-long industry collaboration. The practicum is usually cited among the top two choice drivers by our students. In the first three years of the program (2017-2020) for which I have ready data, 60% of our graduates were women. Women students from China and India are well-represented in that group, the field's apparent negative perceptions notwithstanding. I am aware of a number of similarly gender-balanced MSBA programs. We already see it percolating into the professional ranks in industry. (The situation doesn't seem quite as sanguine at the PhD level or in data science proper. Perhaps others can weigh in; my knowledge there is anecdotal.)
    • The ground game challenge in our admissions process is domestic women applicants: Like other business schools, ours has made great strides towards gender balance in the MBA. In our MSBA, there's work to be done. The compelling income ROI, not to mention the non-monetary rewards of analytics work, need to be more effectively articulated to that demo.
    • We need to achieve more on the broader frontier of representation, in academics and in industry. When in grad school, I thought nothing of the fact that my department was full of Latinx students (men and women). I came to realize later as a hiring manager, and much later in university admissions, that effectuating diversity is the proverbial slow boring of hard boards. It requires a passion and a stamina that isn't necessarily rewarded by most (employment and social) compensation systems. Our post-George Floyd world is more conscious of the need for intentional action on this front. There could be an opportunity for INFORMS to lead in this broader arena.
    • The INFORMS emphasis on analytics (as opposed to data science) is correct, I believe. Indeed, it seems to me that "data science" shares certain brand attributes with "operations research" - specifically, a whiff of geeky esotericism. As an organization, we should continue to emphasize that analytics professionals don't just put the proverbial ding in the universe, they define it. Identifying and highlighting how that is done should be our shared mission (along with the old standby, proving theorems!) 
    • Speaking of sustained outstanding analytics organizations, in addition to attending Erica's talk tomorrow I'd encourage colleagues to take another look at the INFORMS Prize at https://www.informs.org/Recognizing-Excellence/INFORMS-Prizes/INFORMS-Prize. Parenthetically, Erica also happens to chair that prize committee! The 2021 prize was won by Amazon. The previous awardee was UPS. It would be wonderful if more industry-based members advocated actively for their organizations - commercial or nonprofit - to be named among that group. Nominate your company! If you don't tell us how great you are, how will we ever know?!
    ​Apologies for the length.

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    Sanjay Saigal
    Director of Analytics Strategy
    Graduate School of Management, UC Davis
    Menlo Park CA
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  • 5.  RE: What's keeping women from Data Science in industry? A view from BCG & new initiative from the INFORMS Practice Section

    Posted 9 days ago
    @Sanjay Saigal  Great comments, as usual, and thanks for sharing what your seeing at the MSBA program at UC Davis - that's really interesting to know about the admissions challenge in the female US-citizens demographic segment.  I don't know that this will move the needle for you in the future, but did you see that Ryder partnered with the Girl Scouts in Florida and U of TN to create a scouting badge on supply chain, using their cookie sales and distribution as an example?!  How many INFORMS members over the years have talked about creating scouting badges for our profession?!  I love that Ryder made this happen and am glad to hear about efforts by INFORMS to engage in more partnership so we can scale our efforts and impact.

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    Robin Lougee
    robin.lougee@gmail.com
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  • 6.  RE: What's keeping women from Data Science in industry? A view from BCG & new initiative from the INFORMS Practice Section

    Posted 9 days ago
    @Robin Lougee
    Indeed!

    @all -- following Robin's suggestion, @Jeffrey M. Cohen reached out to Girl Scouts. We haven't heard back yet but we will be persistent.

    Following up on @Sanjay Saigal, if you are looking for more great OR & analytics success stories, check out this list.
    https://www.informs.org/Impact/Success-Stories​​​​

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    Elena Gerstmann
    Executive Director
    INFORMS
    egerstmann@informs.org
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  • 7.  RE: What's keeping women from Data Science in industry? A view from BCG & new initiative from the INFORMS Practice Section

    Posted 3 days ago
    Thanks for sharing this report, Robin, I shared it on LinkedIn and it has generated a lot of dialogue and attention, so I'm trying to get it out there more.

    Sanjay, I completely agree that the biggest issues is with domestic women. A bit contrary to the report, I've found plenty of women from China, India, Turkey, Iran, etc. We had a call earlier this week about an academic case we are writing focused on a female protagonist for a case competition called The Case for Women. Burcu Keskin/Alabama is collaborating with us, and we had another Turkish female professor on the same call from Europe with whom we are collaborating on another case.

    But to illustrate, my student was also on the call. She is a domestic woman who was a management science undergrad who had zero female professors and only one female professor in her MSA program.

    Sanjay, I completely agree that offering practical examples is critical, and even more so if you can tie it to ways the organization makes a social impact. I think the response to Anne Robinson and I at Kinaxis offering universities guest lectures to illustrate how we make supply chain and analytics real indicates an interest in this area. Good for you for highlighting the practicum, which I also think is critical.

    I'm not as sure about the analytics focus, because I think it makes us sound more out of touch and like all we do is BI than that it will increase interest from women.

    But let's all keep pushing on this.

    And needless to say, I LOVE the Girl Scouts supply chain badge. While my own scouting experience was not particularly inspiring, hopefully that badge will be.

    Polly

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    Polly Mitchell-Guthrie
    VP, Industry Outreach And Thought Leadership
    Kinaxis
    Scottsdale AZ
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