Data Proves Women Leaders Dominate This STEM Profession
Do you know which major STEM field boasts as many women in the profession as men? Where almost half the college degrees – even at the PhD level – are granted to women? Where women have a significant presence in the most influential circles of the profession?Analytics, the family of data analysis professions such as statisticians and data miners, includes plenty of women. In fact, more women are statisticians than men, and that has been the case for many years. You can’t say that of engineering or physics, and you certainly can’t say that about computer science, the one major STEM area that has actually shown a long-term decline in female participation and a significant decline at that.[bctt tweet=“More women are statisticians than men, and that has been the case for many years.” username=“takeleadwomen”]There’s so much attention paid to the participation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics that you’d think this would be front page news, but most haven’t even noticed.Some are even spreading misinformation – inadvertently, no doubt, yet it’s important to set the record straight. I was disappointed when a professional group invited me to a seminar that promised to cover this topic: “Women in Analytics…a rare specimen – how we can change that.”Far from rare specimens, women are well represented among analytics professionals. As an analytics professional myself, I’m prepared to back up that claim with data.[bctt tweet=“Far from rare specimens, women are well represented among analytics professionals.” username=“takeleadwomen”]
- In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 9 percent of statisticians are women. This is not a new development. Look back 10 or 15 years, and you’ll see that women statisticians outnumbered men then, too.
- Almost half of degrees in math and statistics are earned by women. Women have earned more than 40 percent of math and statistics bachelor’s degrees throughout the past 4 decades. In 2014, 43% of those degrees went to women, as did about the same proportion of master’s and doctoral degrees.
- Actuaries, the most heavily controlled and perhaps best compensated of the analytics professions, are 30 percent female. (Actuaries in the United States, 2007.) What’s more, the proportion of women actuaries is growing. Roughly 40 percent of actuarial bachelor’s degrees are now awarded to women, and in some recent years, women have earned more actuarial master’s degrees than men.
- About one in three members of the American Statistical Association are women. Women are well-represented on the board, and the current president is a woman, Jessica Utts, Chair of the University of California Irvine Department of Statistics.
- Women statisticians are influential in many countries – 41 of the world’s 190 statistical offices are headed by women.
There’s nothing rare about women in analytics. I have met thousands of data analysts in the course of my career, and there have always been many women among them. By contrast, I’ve seen the presence of women in software development dwindling over the years– a topic that I and many others have written about, and again, supported observations with data.That’s not to say that life is all peaches and cream for women in analytics. Take, for example, the case of tenured math professors – fewer than 20 pecent are women. Lengthy reports have been written on issues of career path and compensation, I won’t even attempt those topics here. And the rise of the new “data scientist” role, strongly associated with the male-dominated computing culture, opens questions about opportunity and participation for women. Equal numbers do not necessarily equate to equal opportunity.Yet it’s clear, a woman in analytics is as common as a man in analytics. People ought to know.