Women in BI: Are You a “Data Geekette”?

Recently around the office we’ve been talking about the increasing role of women in most areas of information technology (IT). I’ve had the pleasure to know and work with excellent database administrators (DBAs) and application programmers, as well as IT managers and executives—both women and men. Of course, as a business intelligence (BI) analyst I quickly got hooked on the idea of developing a data-based perspective of the role women play in the BI space: What are women working on in the BI space? Do any patterns emerge in terms of whether they are doing data visualization, coding, data warehouses, etc.?

I’m now working on preparing a special report on the role that women play in the development and evolution of the BI space.

When I started researching the matter I came across a post from Jen Stirrup in regard to the role of women in IT. To summarize her position she writes, “I disagree with the idea of tailoring IT recruitment services towards women. Recruitment should be about skills.”

While I agree with Jen—we should forget about gender when it comes to hiring BI professionals and take into account only their abilities, knowledge, and experience—I think it is a fact of life that women and men think differently. They address problems from different perspectives and, in the BI arena, where solving problems and enabling decision-making is key, these differences may be a factor. Do women and men approach BI differently? How are women and men distributed throughout the BI space and do they enjoy success within those areas? What is their role in decision-making?

Some more basic issues: Are women pursuing BI as a career? Are there still some impediments to women’s development in the BI space? How do women in BI feel about their salaries?

We don’t know how recruitment strategies targeting women for IT roles are formulated, or if they’re successful. The truth is we don’t know how many women are in BI, how much experience they have, how they got there.

Well, if we don’t have the facts and figures, let’s find them out. We’ll be publishing a survey soon. Please follow us through the research process—your contributions and insight are valuable to us.

Finally, my fellow analysts and our editors are arguing over the value of the term “data geekette,” and whether it’s one we should use. What do you think?


Tell us a little more about yourself in the comments below. What’s the gender balance like where you work? What type of BI-related job are you involved with (analytics and reporting, data mining and forecasting, business performance management, technical support, etc.)? Do you think women and men do BI differently?
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