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IWD 2024: Inspiring diversity in data - My journey in the industry
Thu, 7th Mar 2024

As I reflect on my journey in the ever-evolving tech industry, the theme of International Women's Day 2024, "Inspire Inclusion," struck a chord. Inclusion and diversity are areas where the data and broader STEM industry have made progress in leaps and bounds, but we all recognise we have some way to go. 

Growing up in Ireland and then moving to Australia, I didn’t imagine I would one day work in data, but I was certainly interested in the tech industry. For me, it represented an industry with so much opportunity beyond the traditional roles of programming or engineering. The technology industry has continued to fascinate me throughout my career, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to advocate for change. 

However, I also recognise that the lack of representation can often act as a barrier for the next generation, and the belief that “you can’t be what you can’t see” has held people back. The challenges faced by women aspiring to enter data and other STEM careers are multifaceted, ranging from a lack of knowledge and access to the absence of female role models. In addition, the lack of awareness around the diversity of career options in the industry beyond becoming an engineer has historically led to fewer women pursuing a career in data. 

I have found that enhancing my visibility in the industry to be a role model has been beneficial. By putting my hand up to present and share my experience at universities and schools, I have demonstrated to female students that they are represented in data and will be welcomed in the industry. To address this issue of inclusion head-on, I've taken a leading role in championing women in data initiatives across Snowflake’s business in Australia and New Zealand.  

Programs like this not only bring women in the industry together for networking, learning and finding mentors, but it also helps reduce the isolation that may be experienced in male-dominated fields by creating a sense of belonging and community. Participating in women in data events has helped attendees make new connections, which continue to be nurtured and leveraged when attending other industry events. Familiarity and representation go miles in making people feel welcome, and we are proud to be driving a change in bringing women together. 

When attending events and conferences, I often arrange a “meet-up” with other female attendees to celebrate and champion each other despite coming from different backgrounds, levels of seniority and business functions such as sales, marketing, engineering, and channel. What brings us all together is the awareness that we have a safe space to meet, connect and just be – and there is immense power in the knowledge that you aren’t alone. 

For businesses in the data industry striving for a more diverse and inclusive culture and workforce, there is the opportunity to start at the source. By collaborating with educational institutions, we can drive awareness among the future workforce about the breadth of opportunities in the industry,  which will impact diversity and representation in the years ahead. Businesses should also seek other like-minded organisations and stakeholders to achieve their collective goal of improving diversity. Working with partners in your ecosystem will ultimately also help create a welcoming community. 

My journey, from my initial interest in the technology industry to becoming a vocal advocate for diversity in data, is a testament to proactivity’s power. As we look to celebrate and continue to champion inclusion this International Women’s Day, let us commit to working together to foster change in the data and broader industry.