By Chloe Lim
While data science is a relatively new field, the percentage of women data scientists is low compare to men. However, panellists at a H2O.ai online session believe that it’s just a matter of having the right attitude, confidence and passion for women who are keen to join the field.
They were responding to a question by moderator Oxana Plis, Marketing Director of Asia Pacific and Japan at H2O.ai, at the August 12 session entitled Women in AI Panel: Growing Impact of AI in Financial Services Sector.
According to Plis, studies have revealed that fewer than 15 percent of data scientists are female.
“I am really surprised by such a low number. But I do feel recently, I have seen a lot more female graduates from data science courses in the local universities in Singapore,” said Poh.
She believes that having the right attitude is the most important for fresh graduates.
“That’s the most important but if you’d like to get some experience in data science or machine learning, there are a lot of platforms like Kaggle competitions, which are great to start training your skillset. Those are things that show recruiters or hiring managers that you are putting your money and time where it’s worth. Spend time getting some real-life experience. Those are things that would be helpful,” she said.
Pandey pointed out that the first thing is to understand why you want to get into data science and not just follow the hype.
“Today, data science and AI are more of a hype, where everybody wants to be a data scientist but don’t know if they are passionate about this field. This is a field that requires a lot of continuous learning so you have to be motivated enough,” said the mother of a six-year-old son who became a Kaggle grandmaster last year during COVID.
“The most important thing is, ‘Are you really enjoying programming? Do you like solving problems? Do you like finding insights from data?’ And if you say ‘yes’, this is something you can enjoy, look for mentors and join communities, many of which have gone online because of the pandemic. And as a freshie, learn and grasp as much as you can, then start creating small and meaningful projects. The most important thing is your passion,” she added.
Plis asked if being women, being right-brain dominant, would have a slightly skewed representation in various fields.
Gaur noted that there are times where we need to see the pattern matching, visualizing and creativity, where women are better than men.
“When I am sitting with my group, there are young boys. I tell them we have some other ideas that do not strike them. I tell them to look from the dataset from a different angle to bring out the creativity and visualization. I feel women can do this much better than others. It is only a question of confidence and passion about the dataset and this field. They could have a more constructive role if they are involved,” she said.