With the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic Equate Scotland sought to provide additional learning opportunities for women studying/working in STEM, and career changers whose studies or employment had been impacted by the pandemic.
In July 2020 Equate Scotland launched a new experiential learning programme to engage key collaborative partners to work with us to provide opportunities for women to develop hands-on practical skills in key STEM sectors.
ICT is one of the fastest growing STEM sectors in Scotland, yet women comprise just 23% of the sector. At the same time, there is increased demand from employers to recruit individuals with analytical and problem solving skills.
Equate Scotland proactively approached The DataLab and Codeclan to explore their interest in working collaboratively with Equate to provide an experiential learning event for women in data science. Equate established the pilot in terms of funding, wider expertise and networks, reaching out to The DataLab and Codeclan to provide the technical element of the programme drawing on their expertise in this area.
The aims of the collaborative project between The DataLab, CodeClan and Equate Scotland were:
- To break down barriers/perceptions about data science by creating a programme that engages/encourages women’s participation in data science.
- Provide a collaborative, supportive learning/training event to equip women to pursue careers in data science or further explore their interest and qualifications.
- To reach out to new entrants or career changers (perhaps affected by the impact of Covid-19).
The aims for the women who attended were:
- Have a greater understanding of how data can be used to drive value within their own organisations/roles.
- Learn how to write python code and use Jupyter, pandas and Seaborn to analyse, interpret, present and communicate their data.
- Understand more about the types of roles/sectors where data science is applied/used.
- Be informed of the different career paths to a career in or using data science.
- Learn the importance of the other employability skills required for data science, not just the technical skills.
- Increased confidence in their abilities and be inspired to explore their data science learning further post attendance.
- Build their peer and professional networks and make new contacts in data science.
Equate Scotland delivered the first very successful Women in Data Science online experiential learning event in November 2020. Attended by 18 women and rated 100% excellent by those attending, the cohort was made up of 6 students, 5 career changers and 9 professional women from across Scotland each with an interest in learning key data science skills to help them upskill or reskill in this field. The feedback from the initial course was very positive, demonstrating the benefit that women had gained from their attendance:
- 77% of attendees stated that attendance at the course increased their confidence in their data skills and abilities.
- 100% said they now understood more about the types of roles, sectors and pathways where data science is applied.
- 100% said they now understood more about what employability skills are required for a data science role.
- Participants reported that the top 3 skills developed during the course were technical skills in Python programming (92%), analytical skills (62%) and IT skills and the use of technology (62%).
Elisabetta, Student said ‘I feel a lot more confident about my ability to learn technical skills and use Python for my academic work and future jobs. I often find myself intimidated by technical talk and doubt my ability to learn any of it. I would say this event has massively improved my confidence in this regard!’
Kelsey, Professional said ‘The Python tutors were brilliant and helped me to understand where to use a bit of code in the real world. It was great to hear from women with data science careers and their tips to get ahead’.
Jaime, Career Changer said ‘The Women in Data Science event was incredibly insightful, from learning new techniques to understanding what is needed for a career in data. Having the ability to learn this in a women-only space felt incredibly empowering.’
The initial course was over-subscribed, +60 applications for a place. Due to the level of interest, and the success of the initial course, The DataLab secured further funding to allow us to repeat another 3.5 day course in February 2020. We also provided an additional 1.5 day course for neuro divergent women in March 2020. These two courses were attended by 19 and 5 women respectively.
For more information and to explore what services Equate provide for women studying and working in STEM fields and employers in STEM visit https://equatescotland.org.uk/
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