Only one fifth of women studying at degree level are currently thinking about pursuing a career working in data, a new study from Experian has revealed.
The research, which surveyed 1,204 UK consumers in education, found that most female students are put off because the don’t think they have the right set of skills, with nearly half (48 per cent) suggesting they’d ruled out this career path due to a lack of confidence with science or maths.
To raise awareness of the opportunities available to students of all backgrounds, Experian has partnered with The Data inspiration Group to support its Digdata initiative, a programme of bite-sized, virtual work-experience challenges, live online career panels and classroom resources. Digdata is designed for all students in secondary and tertiary education, as well as teaching staff and career leaders.
Promisingly, Experian’s survey showed that there is appetite amongst younger female students to learn more about careers in data. Over two fifths (46 per cent) of young women studying at further education level (such as A-Levels) say the curriculum should be updated so students learn how data and maths can address some of society’s major challenges, such as the climate crisis.
Many female university students also see the benefits of a career working in data. Among those definitely open to pursuing tech as a career path, 36 per cent think that such jobs may pay more, while 30 per cent say they have been inspired by someone they know working in the field.
However, education institutions and companies still clearly need to do more. Only 31 per cent of women at degree level have noticed ads for data-related roles on social media.
Rachel Duncan, Chief People Officer at Experian UK&I, said: “The world is changing rapidly, and data is at the heart of this transformation. Career paths across a wide spectrum, from fashion design to sports coaching, finance, and marketing, now require an element of data engineering expertise. Demand for ‘data professionals’ has tripled in last five years alone.
“Despite this trend, there are still barriers to overcome and government, education institutions and businesses need to work together to develop key skills and raise awareness about how a career working with data can offer a great career path for young people, from all backgrounds.
“The UK has an opportunity to be a world leader in data. By working on projects like Digdata we hope to be able to build confidence, enhance skills and generate more diversity in our workforce, embracing the opportunities that our digital economy presents and developing the next generation of talent.”
Rachel Keane, Founder and Chief Data Inspirer at Digdata, said: “In line with the government plan to ‘level up’ UK employment opportunities, coupled with the national shortage of data professionals, The Data Inspiration Group and the Digdata programme aims to help students upskill and develop their competency.
“As data teams increase their roles and influence, the skills they are looking for in prospective employees go beyond numeracy. The industry needs creative problem solvers, inquisitive thinkers, and good communicators – skills that are transferable from all curriculum subjects and that are relevant to multiple industry sectors.
“We want students from all backgrounds and academic abilities know that a career in data is a choice available to them.”