The Importance of Representation and Paying It Forward
How I Broke Into The Healthcare Industry and Started My Career As A Data Analyst by Ashley Scott
Why is representation in the workplace critical to one's 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 a public health degree with honors, working up to three jobs at one time while in college full-time, I struggled to land a "good" job in healthcare. I felt uneasy about sharing the news to my parents because it might 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 was 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 1-year MBA program.
In business school, I noticed analytical skills were becoming more sought out in the competitive job descriptions. I continued taking more analytics courses, but I began to feel bittersweet again about my career trajectory. 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 gap, and lack of mentorship as leading reasons for leaving the industry. The lack of high 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 are discouraged from applying to the field.
We can attest that applying for jobs is a job in itself. Luckily, there are more ways to make that job less of a hassle by receiving personalized job recommendations via email, job posting websites, recruiting events, apprenticeships, and more. My goal is to provide more motivation and tips to data enthusiasts who are interested in pivoting into an in-demand field in technology and data without a technical background. 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 that paying it forward helps diversify the talent pipeline and cultivates new ideas to elevate more leaders to adapt to a data-driven economy.
If you are interested in joining the movement and connecting with Ashley, visit www.datagirlash.com.