Driving XLence: Women in Data Science and AI  

March 8, 2024

Seri Johnstone and Allie Gaines 

This blog is a continuation of highlighting the impacts of women in STEM. Another great read about this topic is by our coworker, Elkida Bazaj: “The Monochrome Canvas of Innovation: A World Without Women in STEM”  

In the evolving landscape of technology, data science and artificial intelligence (AI) stand at the forefront, shaping the way many of us live, work, and interact with the world. However, despite significant strides, the gender gap in these particular fields remains a major hurdle, as women are underrepresented in crucial roles. Internally at XponentL and, here, externally, we want to delve into the importance and impact of promoting gender diversity in achieving XLence in data science and AI through the exploration of current state statistics.   

The Current Landscape  

The technology industry is decisively a male-dominated field, with only 27.6% of the workforce identifying as women (anitab.org). Looking up the corporate ladder, representation wanes - as only 16.7% of technology companies have a woman serving as CEO (anitab.org). Although progress was made with 51% more women technologists being hired in 2022, the gender disparity is an evident detriment to the industry (anitab.org).   

Slow down: Stop sign ahead  

Not only are women underrepresented in this field, but the majority also experience adverse feelings that steer them away from the industry. For example, 78% of women in technology feel like they need to work harder than male counterparts to prove themselves in their role (anitab.org). Another deterring factor is the prevalence of “bro culture”, or situations where traditional gender roles and exclusionary attitudes & actions are forced upon women. According to a 2021 study by TrustRadius.com, 72% of women in technology have worked in a place where “bro culture” was widespread. Taking into consideration these statistics, it is clear why the technology industry is less attractive for women to work in, and why 21% more women feel burned out compared to men (TrustRadius.com). They are exhausted from the additional mental strain of constantly feeling like they don’t fit in, and face an uphill battle to get the recognition they deserve.  

Diversity Drives Innovation  

Research consistently demonstrates that diverse teams foster innovation. A study by McKinsey & Company found that companies in the top quartile for gender-diverse executive boards were 21% more likely to outperform their counterparts in terms of profitability. They are also 27% more likely to generate superior value creation. In the context of data science and AI, diverse teams bring a broader range of perspectives, leading to more robust and inclusive solutions. Gender-diverse teams make better business decisions 73% of the time (compared to 58% for all-male teams) (Forbes.com). Therefore, gender heterogeneity is essential for better business practices and forward propulsion.   

Accelerating into the Road Ahead  

While progress is being made, there is still much work to be done. Creating an inclusive environment, fostering mentorship programs, and challenging stereotypes are essential steps toward achieving gender parity in data science and AI. As we navigate the future of technology, let's ensure that the voices and perspectives of women are not only heard but actively contribute to shaping the innovations that will define our world.   

Empowering women in data science and AI is not just a matter of equality; it's a strategic imperative for progress and innovation. By addressing the gender gap, we pave the way for a future where diverse perspectives drive technological advancements that benefit us all.  

Here at XponentL, we actively acknowledge and are working towards closing the gender gap within our company. We intensely value the profound impact that gender diversity has on our company from a profit, innovation, and cultural perspective. We also recognize the importance of establishing a community to allow the proper space for mentorship, comradery, and support. WeXL, a budding inclusive women's group, is aiming to do just that. Women should be in the front seat of the drive towards an enlightened data science and AI industry, piloting a new age of discovery and success.