As more tech organizations aim to diversify their workforce, an emphasis is placed on creating space for more women to get in the field and ultimately rise in the ranks. Hear from three female data and analytics professionals that are helping pave the path for future generations.

Diversity is a hot buzzword these days—especially as it pertains to the workplace. As data shows us, diverse organizations perform better than those that are not. But what does it mean to be diverse for an organization? Simply put, it means to make space for differences—whether it’s race, gender, age, sexual orientation, etc. —and it means to value those differences and ensure a sense of equality for each employee.

As we approach Women’s Equality Day (August 26th) more than 100 years after the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was ratified, we’re reminded that the fight for women’s equality is far from over. Although we’ve made great strides in opening doors and breaking ceilings, women are still vastly unrepresented in many sectors of society—most notably within the technology industry.

Even as the percentage of employed women across all job sectors in the U.S. has grown to 47%, according to Statista, “the technology sector is actually further away from achieving gender equality than the U.S. economy as a whole.”

Making A Seat at The Table for Women in Tech Pays Dividends

According to McKinsey & Company, “in 2019, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile—up from 21% in 2017 and 15% in 2014. Diversity is good for business—it paves way for new ideas and allows for growth. Yet still, according to research done by Built In, “48% of women in STEM jobs report discrimination in the recruitment and hiring process, 39% of women view gender bias as a primary reason for not being offered a promotion, and 66% of women report that there is no clear path forward for them in their career at their current companies.”

Although there is still work to be done, Karin Weber, SVP of the People Office at Analytics8 says, “There’s never been a greater time for women who want to get in tech to do so then now.” She notes that the fight has always been there, but a lot of barriers have come down in the last couple of years and organizations recognize the call to diversify. “It’s not just a call, but it’s an opportunity for the business itself. It’s an opportunity to find the right candidate for your team—someone who not only brings experience, but a new perspective that is so desperately needed.”

According to Built In, tech companies are listening. They note that, “The facts are clear: the tech industry is not diverse… Employers across the country are responding to this problem. Before 2020, just 54% of companies reported having a diverse hiring process in place. Last year, that jumped to 71% and is expected to reach 77% in 2021.

Time to Recruit More Women in Tech

Charged with recruiting, staffing, enablement, and HR here at Analytics8, Weber has been focused on finding the best talent in the tech industry for more than 25 years. “Companies need to put in the work when it comes to sourcing,” she says. “It’s easy to just take the first candidate that shows up, but if you want the best, most diversified talent, you have to create a sourcing channel that will take you to underrepresented places.”

As more tech companies gear up to diversify their current workforce, they also need to put in the work to help create interest for future generations. Although the number of women in STEM increases every year, it is still an uphill climb because by and large young girls aren’t introduced to it until later in life. According to Sociology of Education, “Among high school seniors, 13% of girls cite plans for a career in a STEM field, compared to 26% of boys.” Weber notes, “There is a disconnect between what young girls are told they can do versus what they are shown they can do. It’s not a matter of excluding tech as a career option, but rather consciously including it in the field of options that we show young girls.” She adds, “As more women go into tech, then more young girls will see that as an option and consider it for themselves. But we have to continue to put in the work now to make it a more desirable option.”

Putting in The Work at Analytics8

Like many companies, we are working hard help close the gender gap. But as we continue to grow, there is a concerted effort to create a sourcing channel that opens the door for more women to not only join the team here at Analytics8, but to also advance their careers. Three consultants—Christina Salmi, Madeline Johnson, and Paula Schroeder—share how they got into the industry, where they hope to go, and what organizations can do to inch one step closer to equality in the workplace.

Meet Analytics8’s Female Consultants

Christina Salmi: I was one of only two women in my computer science undergrad graduating class in college—I was the only one at graduation. After graduating, I found an analytics consulting company at a career fair and that’s how I got into the field. I started with data testing and reporting, and then expanded into teaching reporting training classes while still part of the consulting company. I later expanded into data management projects, teaching data integration training and eventually started working with data strategy projects. I came to Analytics8 in 2010 and am currently a Managing Consultant and the Data Strategy Practice Lead.

Madeline Johnson: I am currently a consultant at Analytics8. Recently I spend most of my time developing in Tableau to create visually appealing and decision-invoking dashboards. There is no such thing as a typical day in my role. Some days I’m working closely with a client to gather requirements and better understand their business processes. Other days, I’m getting into the nitty-gritty, writing SQL, building data models, and validating data quality. I like to think of myself as a data translator, using my business acumen to derive technical specifications for the back-end development team and vice versa. After completing my bachelor’s in Information Systems, I was referred to Analytics8 by my friend, and now colleague. Although I had a background using data visualization software and dimensional modeling, I don’t think it’s necessary to have a degree in STEM to succeed in the role. Tech companies are increasingly looking for technical and soft skills. Being able to effectively communicate data is key.

Paula Schroeder: I am currently a consultant at Analytics8, focused on data and analytics within the Looker BI platform. I have recently been leading internal Looker Enablement as well as enabling clients. I’ve been with Analytics8 for 14 months and started with no previous knowledge of what Looker was. Quickly after I was hired, I began training with the few other consultants who were preparing to get LookML Developer Certified. During the past year, I’ve ramped up my knowledge with the tool and have developed training paths for our growing Looker Practice. I am now leading the training branch of our Practice, alongside our Looker Lead and two other ‘Looker Lieutenants’.

As you continue to develop your skills, how do you see your career progressing? How has Analytics8 played a role in helping you meet your goals?

Paula Schroeder: My overall career goals are BIG! I want to do many things—some are just starting out, some are in the making, and some are for way into the future. The one thing they all have in common is my autonomy to guide them and to shape them. And that it what Analytics8 has offered me and has taught me (so far!). I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone, I’ve interacted with people in ways I never had before, and I’ve been given opportunities beyond what I imagined I’d be doing a year out of college. And my progress has been recognized and appreciated—which contributes to a feeling of belonging and of respect within an organization.

Madeline Johnson: Ultimately, my goal is to manage in some way. Whether it be managing consultants or projects, I’d like to transition into a more people-oriented role, doing high-level planning and not get as tied down doing technical work. Analytics8 has provided me with ample opportunities to step up and demonstrate my leadership capabilities. When I first started at Analytics8, I was put on an enterprise-wide Tableau implementation for one of our biggest Tableau clients. As the sole BI consultant on my project, I naturally assumed a project management role, keeping track of project milestones, and onboarding new consultants added to the engagement. Additionally, I’ve had several opportunities to deliver quality work and expand Tableau’s presence within our Analytics Service Line. I got to work with a few other consultants to create our company-wide Tableau training from scratch. Although I’ve been here for just under a year, Analytics8 has positioned me as a go-to person for all things Tableau.

Christina Salmi: I strive to continually grow and expand my professional skillset to enable me to achieve excellence in my field, to provide value to my company and customers, and to make some positive impact in the world. I have been able to achieve this and much more at Analytics8. Thanks to years of opportunities that provided me with well-rounded experiences and training and mentoring, I am now in a management position, advising our customers at the highest levels to promote positive change in their organizations, and contributing to my company as a practice lead and trusted expert. Analytics8 has provided many professional development resources during my journey including technical training, opportunities to practice networking skills and keep well-informed of the latest industry trends at conferences, and opportunities to present and speak as a panelist at various events. In addition, the strong bonds and guidance I have received from colleagues and mentors at executive levels have been key to my professional growth.

What role did the pandemic play in your career and how did Analytics8 help provide a work/life balance?

Madeline Johnson: I was in the first class of new hires after the pandemic hiring freeze was lifted, so I started 100% remote. It was hard to adjust to remote work with my home office also serving as my bedroom. However, I found ways to adapt and stay focused until we moved into a hybrid format. The #1 way that Analytics8 helps make home/work life feel more balanced is by shifting focus off the 9-5 schedule. They still expect you to execute your engagements and meet your utilization targets, but you can do it on your own time. Personally, I prefer to wake up early and start working around 7:30. By the time lunch comes around, I’ve already put in at least 4-5 hours of productive work and have no problem taking an hour to go to the gym or run errands. This has significantly improved my happiness at work and helped avoid burnout.

Christina Salmi: I had a baby at the very beginning of the pandemic, so I already had planned time off before everything was shut down. But as it became clear that we would be required to work remotely, it became very challenging being a new mom—doing everything from home—all while navigating everything through a pandemic. I was so thankful that Analytics8 immediately adopted a flexible policy that put an emphasis on individual needs. I was able to focus on mental health, take care of my child, and still get work done knowing I had the support of everyone I worked with.

Paula Schroeder: I interviewed with Anlaytics8 in February of 2020—at the very start of the pandemic. I think the office closed a week after I was in the building, and there was a lot of uncertainty around when and where I was going to have the first day of my career. So, the balance of home/work life was never really shifted for me. Instead, it was simply how the next stage in my life started. Analytics8 made it so easy, they kept transparent communication with their employees, and offered a flexible work environment once it was safe to do so. In times of uncertainty, pain, and concern, there was never any pressure from the organization to go back to the way things were. We were able to individually adapt to the situation.

What can the tech industry do to contribute to equality and attract more women to the field?

Paula Schroeder: Change the culture and the expectations of gender in the workplace. Change your biases, we all have them, and we can all read them. As women, we sometimes feel that we have to speak louder, stand up taller, or say more in order to be understood. And it’s obvious for us because it’s what we’ve done for a long time. We get bigger to make up for the empty spaces. But if spaces are created for women to be loud, just as they are for men, it organically promotes inclusivity. I’ve been in client calls with male colleagues where questions get directed at them, by name, instead of at me. I notice when this happens; I wonder if men notice when the opposite happens.

Christina Salmi: Although it has come a long way, the tech industry has a history of being male dominated. Companies can help to overcome the inherent and often subconscious biases in the industry by promoting an open discussion of the challenges female employees are faced with and how all employees can identify opportunities to support them. I can attest to the difference it makes having colleagues at Analytics8 who are looking out for these situations and speaking up when they occur. Small and seemingly subtle contributions are critical to ensuring a more inclusive and equitable culture for women and all employees. Examples include speaking out in a meeting to redirect credit to a female colleague when she’s overlooked and to reinforce the leadership of a female colleague in scenarios where others may mistakenly look to a more junior male team member for authoritative responses.

Encouraging employees to attend presentations and panels specific to women in technology is another way to promote discussion and change. Also, providing mentorship to junior female employees from management and executive levels can have a domino effect in supporting women in a company. The invaluable mentors I have had throughout my career gave me the confidence and guidance to strive for higher professional levels and inspired me to look for opportunities to do the same with my female colleagues and team members.

Madeline Johnson: This is a very complex question because there isn’t one simple solution to create an equitable culture for all women. I can only speak from my experience as a white woman, but it’s important to note that issues surrounding gender inequality in tech disproportionately effect women of color. While the percentage of white women in tech is low at 30%, the percentage is even lower for women of color at 18%. An easy place to start is by simply hiring more women in tech roles.

I believe one of the reasons that the gender gap in tech began and is still upheld today is because people inherently give opportunities to their own network. For example, the majority of technology roles are filled by white males. Most of the time, one’s network is filled with people like themselves. Creating initiatives to hire more diverse candidates could result in a positive feedback loop of attracting a broad network of talented professionals. Another way tech companies could promote inclusivity is by amplifying the voices and presence of women. I believe many young girls shy away from careers in STEM because they don’t see representation. I follow plenty of inspirational, talented female tech influencers on LinkedIn, but it wasn’t until I joined the platform that I realized there was an entire network of women working in tech. We need to share their articles and posts to amplify their voices.

What advice do you have for other women looking to get into the technology space?

Christina Salmi: Don’t be discouraged. Aim to change the culture. Attend women in tech events and panels.

Madeline Johnson: Don’t count yourself out just because you might not be drawn to technical, scientific subject areas. There are roles in tech for every interest! If you love to build and think logically, there are plenty of engineering jobs. If your talents are better suited working face-to-face with people, you could be a good fit for a front-end role. A creative mindset is just as valued as a technical one and will only give you a leg up in this industry.

Paula Schroeder: Get certified in niche areas—whether it’s a tool, a language, a software, etc. Reach out to other women in your network. We get it, we see each other’s success, and in my experience, we help each other.


Karin Weber:
Figure out what part of tech excites you, then educate yourself on what is going on in that industry, and make sure you are well versed in understanding how your skills can fit in. Most importantly, don’t be afraid.

Sharon Rehana Sharon Rehana is the content manager at Analytics8 with experience in creating content across multiple industries. She found a home in data and analytics because that’s where storytelling always begins.
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