Re.engineer Magazine - Spring 2022

REPRESENTATION

Ashley M. Scott I NC L U S I ON How I Broke Into the Healthcare Industry and Started My Career as a Data Analyst

Why is representation in the workplace critical to upward mobility? Growing up as a first-generation college student with Caribbean parents, there was a strong emphasis on getting a "good" job after college. Despite graduating with honors and a public health degree and working up to three jobs at one time as a full-time college student, I struggled to land a "good" job in healthcare. I felt uneasy about sharing the news with my parents because it might have raise questions about my degree’s credibility in the workplace. Luckily, my saving grace was my decision to reach out to people in the healthcare industry for guidance and mentorship. I created meaningful relationships and learned how to re-strategize my career search. It is interesting to note that my mentors, who identified as women of color, emphasized the importance of having at least one graduate degree. I always aspired to pursue an MBA and took a leap of faith by enrolling in a one-year MBA program. In business school, I noticed analytical skills were becoming sought out more in the competitive job descriptions. I continued taking more analytics courses, but I began to feel bittersweet about my career trajectory again. I needed to niche down my industry and core skills which led me to build my data portfolio and reposition myself as a data professional in the public health space. My journey reminds me why I started my social media platform, Data Girl Ash, during the COVID-19 pandemic. I understand firsthand that navigating your career path can feel challenging when you are changing career paths or don't have access to specific educational resources and support groups. As I expanded my network, I found a poor representation of women in these careers in the media and workplace. According to the Boston Consulting Group, 15 to 22 percent of today's data science professionals are women. Forbes

reported that women who are data analysts do not usually hold managerial roles, considering 18 percent of leadership positions are at premier tech companies. Women in these fields have often reported mistreatment, bullying, gender pay gaps, and lack of mentorship as leading reasons for leaving the industry. The low retention rates of women and underrepresented groups encouraged me to share my story at the pandemic's peak, stay motivated, and educate other non-traditional data enthusiasts before they became discouraged from applying to the field. I can attest that applying for jobs is a job in itself. Luckily, there are many ways to make the job search less of a hassle such as the following: receiving personalized job recommendations via email, job posting websites, recruiting events, apprenticeship opportunities and more. My goal is to provide more motivation and tips to data enthusiasts without a technical background who are interested in pivoting into an in-demand field in technology and data analysis. By supporting college students, post-graduates, career changers, and working professionals, I hope to be a small part of their journey to exceed their career goals and enhance their data awareness in and outside the workplace. In my #DataGirl social media campaign, I posted educational content to increase the awareness of data careers by sharing my experiences. The campaign reached international recognition with customers across the United States, Canada, and Ireland which inspired me to create my data-inspired apparel and accessories collection. A portion of the proceeds supports local women-minority-owned businesses and helped to launch my Data Girl Scholarship in partnership with the New York Urban League. There is strength in numbers. Remember, small steps over time is a testament to paying it forward which helps diversify the talent pipeline and cultivates new ideas to elevate more leaders to adapt to a data-driven economy.

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