Positive workplace policies act as key driver of growing women participation in the Data Science space

New Delhi: Great Learning, one of India’s leading EdTech companies for professional and higher education, today announced the results of a survey conducted by them on the participation and involvement of women in the data science domain, specifically AI and Analytics. The survey underlines the opportunities that exist for women in these sectors, factors that impact these opportunities and areas to focus on to increase participation of women in the data science sector. It also offers insights into the current representation of women in data science – demographics that offer the most opportunities, distribution across industry sectors and the paths of entry for women into the domain.

The following results are based on responses from close to 2000 women from the data science industry who participated in the survey. This was complemented by direct discussions with women leaders from the AI and Analytics domain to gauge their perspective on the broader participation of Women in AI.

54% women believe they have greater opportunities in AI & Analytics now vs. 5 years ago

Of all the respondents of the survey, 54% affirmed that there were more opportunities for them in AI and Analytics today than 5 years ago. The top five factors cited for this increase in opportunity include positive workplace policies, greater participation of women in the hiring process, favourable recruitment policies, lesser bias towards women and presence of more role-models for women than before.

The work force policies that have had a positive impact on women’s participation in the sector include training/logistics support for such roles, flexi-hours, work from home, and more maternity leaves. Also, the fact that more women pursuing Analytics and Data Science programmes has had an impact. Companies are also doing their bit by reaching out to and shortlisting more women candidates than before. Then, the fact that more women have risen to significant roles not just in the AI and Data Science domains but also across the broader IT and Technology domains has had an impact. Senior women Data Scientists and CIOs across industries and organizations are now serving as role models to numerous women seeking a career in AI and Analytics.

Top 5 factors that will encourage more women to enter AI & Analytics

As per the survey, 27% respondents believe that equal growth and pay for the same level of experience and education will encourage more women. The lack of equal growth and pay for women in AI, continues to be a roadblock discouraging many qualified and experienced women from entering this domain. 24% believe that women will be encouraged to enter this domain if they have greater awareness of the roles and the support that organizations now provide in terms of work-life policies, training, and support. 17% think that having a mentoring and support ecosystem from school to universities to firms will encourage more women to enter AI & Analytics roles. 16% believe that greater access to analytics education and seeing more women in leadership roles will encourage more women to join the industry.

Hari Krishnan Nair, Co-founder, Great Learning said, “As leaders in the professional education space we have been buoyed by the growing interest among women towards learning data science. Increased participation of women is imperative if India has to become the hub of data science in the world. The growth opportunities that this space offers for any professional, are immense. What is heartening to see is the improved workplace and recruitment policies by corporates that are paving the way for the entry of more women in the sector. Some more support from organizations and educational institutions can go a long way in drastically improving the participation of women in the field and enhancing diversity within the organisations. We have recently tied up with some leading corporates to improve diversity at workspace by enabling more women professionals to upskill in digital technologies.”

Cities that offer the most opportunities for women in AI & Analytics

Bengaluru has beaten all other Indian cities hands down when it comes to offering most opportunities to women in the data science space with 31% respondents selecting it as the city with most opportunities. It is followed by Delhi (NCR) and Mumbai which are favoured by 10% of the respondents, while Hyderabad and Pune are preferred by 9% of the respondents. The remaining cities have single-digit preferences of 6% or below.

The large gap between Bengaluru and the rest of the cities is a result of the city’s ability to attract all kinds of organizations – Technology companies, Start-ups, Engineering organizations, Consulting firms, and IT firms, all of which deal with large amounts of data. Bengaluru has emerged as the favoured destination for opportunities in AI, Deep Learning, NLP, and Analytics. Moreover, the enabling ecosystem in the city (educational institutes, mentoring, and housing etc.) is more conducive for women looking for a career in data science compared to other cities.

Representation of women in Analytics & AI across industry sectors

As per the survey, the maximum women representation in the data science space comes from the broad IT / ITES sector, represented by 36% of the participants. This is followed by the Technology sector, both, at 16%. Pharma & Healthcare, an emerging industry in the broad Data Science domain is represented by 12% of the participants. The broad Automobile / Industrial / Infra sector is represented by 9% of the participants. The remaining sectors including BFSI, eCommerce, FMCG, Consumer Electronics, Travel & hospitality, and Digital Media have a small yet significant representation in the survey. So, while a little over half of the respondents (52%) are from the broad IT and Technology segments, the remaining 48% of the respondents represent diverse industries, signifying the emergence of Data Science as a domain spanning a host of industries and sectors.

Career entry-path for women in AI & Analytics

The respondents were asked about how they started their career in the AI & Analytics domain. 31%, the highest proportion, have cross-trained from a non-technology function or domain while 26% have upskilled from a related function within IT or Technology. This signifies that the majority of women who have entered the sector have managed to do it indirectly, highlighting the opportunity available for women across sectors who wish to change their career path and build a career in data science.

23% respondents were hired or interned in a data science role after their graduation or post-graduation while 11% were mentored by leaders in analytics. This mentorship took place at a decisive stage (including College/University) in their careers. 9% of the respondents are not in the AI & Analytics function/domain but have participated in the survey through an association with the Data Science domain in terms of cross-functional projects, or personal or academic interest.

In a bid to promote equal representation at workplaces, Great Learning has recently partnered with leading organisations including AGS Health, Diageo, Maersk, Nielsen, OCWEN Financial as their preferred diversity hiring partner. Through this collaboration, the company aims to provide a platform for women in technology and help organizations achieve their ‘diversity at workforce’ goals. Great Learning will host a series of engagement activities and provide a knowledge sharing platform to women learners in the form of webinars, panel discussions, hackathons and career fairs leader in collaboration with these organizations.