International Day of Women and girls in science is celebrated every year on February 11th to honor the contributions of women to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This day recognizes that despite the progress made towards gender equality, there remains a huge gap between men and women in STEM fields. For example, research grants are disproportionately awarded to male researchers, with only one-third of all awards going to female scientists (United Nations, 2022). This shows that while more opportunities have opened up for women over time, there is still much work to be done if we want true parity.
By putting a spotlight on those with successful careers in STEM subjects, we begin to provide role models for those considering careers in such fields.
To give you a glimpse into the life of a successful woman working in data science, we interview Evelyn, data science experience lead at Apheris.
Firstly, tell us a bit about you and what you do?
I am leading the Data Science Experience team at Apheris. We are trying to achieve a seamless user experience for the data scientists running their ML projects and statistical analysis on our platform. I studied math and did my PhD in Berlin. After finishing university, I worked for several platforms in a variety of industries as a data scientist.
How did you get started in tech/STEM?
I always loved math! That’s why I studied it after school. I only learned programming in university. I immediately liked it and that brought me to Computer Science.
What excites you most about working in this industry?
The mix of intellectual challenges and practical application. Observing probability theory in a real-world environment. And what excites me especially about working at Apheris is that data science is not only serving the product, but it is the product itself.
What would you say was your biggest achievement during your work-life?`
Most achievements in my professional life follow a similar pattern. First there is only a rough understanding of the desired outcome. I need to define the problem and discuss several approaches, need to break it down into smaller pieces. And finally, it gets clearer and clearer, and I can implement it. It is worth saying that my biggest achievement always happened in well-functioning teams, through collaboration.
Do you have any advice for other women or girls that consider working in STEM?
Take your time to find the subject you’re passionate about. Don’t rush. It takes time to get a deeper understanding, but it will pay off.
It can be demanding to have professional and parental goals. I, for example, have two children and merging my private life and my professional goals required compromises on both sides. I can only emphasize the importance of the right work environment, to have people around you with supporting mindsets. That has helped me a lot throughout my career.
Finally, what's your favorite nerdy joke?
"Two mathematicians sitting in front of a Kindergarten. Three children are going inside the building. Some minutes later, five children come out. Says the one mathematician to the other: “If two more enter, nobody is inside.”
The benefits of having inclusive and diverse STEM communities are numerous. It leads to increased productivity, higher workplace morale and better decision making processes. Additionally, greater diversity amongst teams fosters innovative ideas and perspectives.
Despite these advantages, research persistently tells us there is still a long way to go before we can reach true gender parity within the STEM fields.
At Apheris, we take diversity very seriously and benefit fully from a gender-equal culture across our business. It is close to our hearts and we want to encourage girls and women to pursue their careers in STEM fields while creating an environment where everyone can thrive.