It seems strange to be writing this blog given everything that is happening at the moment. In the context of the Corona Virus crisis, talking about the Data IQ 100 feels quite frivolous. However, one of the things the last few months has taught everybody is that data – whether it is behavioural science or statistical epidemiology – plays a critical role in both business and wider society. 

Behind the infection projections and curve flattening policies we read everyday are the people who build the mathematical models and run the algorithms. These data analysts are doing amazing, high pressure work. When this is over they, alongside everybody involved in the response, deserve all the awards and recognition coming to them. So it is with this in mind, I feel very humbled to have been named in Data IQ’s 100.

This humbled feeling is added to by being named alongside amazing data leaders such as Kevin Fletcher, who must be just a little bit busy at HMRC right now, Ciara Bosworth making huge strides for the British Heart Foundation’s important work and James Weatherall using data to turbo charge R&D at AstraZeneca. They have all made incredible contributions to data science and tech in the UK. 

It was particularly exciting, that this year the impressive Anita Fernqvist was no. 1. However, disappointingly women still only make up 30% of the list. That is not in any way to criticise Data IQ. This list can only reflect the current state of diversity in tech. Which, as we all know, is pretty poor. The representation of women, minorities and people from lower income backgrounds is pretty bad across the board (and on the board). I had a wry smile when I read that female CEOs of FTSE 100 companies are outnumbered by CEOs called Steve. 

So how do we get more Stephanies? Well it starts with small actions and Data IQ has been kind enough to listen to me in the past and you can read my thoughts here. For the TL/DR people – one of the points I raise is that tech businesses need to increase meaningful engagement with schools to reach younger students. By experiencing real world business challenges, understanding the different careers available and the skills they need it will hopefully help to get more underrepresented groups into tech.

However, given the current climate, I think the last thing we need is another lecture. 

So let’s think about the positives:

  • The Careers & Enterprise Company’s latest report assures us that four out of five young people now meet employers every year to learn about the world of work and two out of three leave school and college having had experiences of the workplace.  This is huge progress.
  • Last summer the number of female students taking exams in A-Level sciences overtook males for the first time ever. So all of this energy going into STEM education is making a difference.
  • According to Odgers Berndtson, women are now out earning men in senior roles in tech – doing wonders for the gender pay gap.
  • On a personal note my two latest new joiners who have started work in these strange circumstances are both young women who are passionate about data and technology – we really are starting to grow this generation of women.
  • And Carol Vorderman will home school your children for you in maths for free whilst we are all socially distancing, to inspire young women and men alike in maths – what more could you want?!

So it isn’t all bad news! 

I’d like to finish by thanking DataIQ for including me and give another shout out to people on the list like the brilliant Anthony Morris at Dixons Carphone, our wonderful partner Andrea Senso, and the very talented Lauren Walker.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, if you want to get involved in our Data Academy and help to improve diversity in data, please do get in contact. Finally, please all keep safe by following the Government’s advice. Hopefully, in a few months this will be over and I can get back to loudly beating the drum for diversity and inclusion in tech. 

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