REPLACE Big Data Show logo
April 30 - May 1, 2025
North Javits Center | New York City

Risk-Taking and Communication: Women Blazing the Path in Data Share Experience with Younger Generations Entering Field

Each March, Women’s History Month celebrates the achievements of women over time. In the workplace, it offers an important opportunity to see where women have made gains and where gaps or deficiencies remain. Overall, women’s participation in the workforce in the U.S. has been rising continuously since the 1950s. According to a Pew report, women’s share of the workforce has risen from less than 30 percent at that time to about 47 percent in 2023. As of 2019, women surpassed men in white-collar jobs, and now account for 51 percent of workers in those positions.

STEM careers, however, have famously lagged other industries from a women’s participation perspective, including data science, analytics and other data jobs. A recent report found women hold just 26 percent of data and analytics jobs in the United States.

But, as women continue to make gains in data-related fields, more of them are rising to senior leadership positions and many are passionate about serving as mentors for younger women who could thrive in the industry if awareness of the opportunities and support systems were more robust. Data Universe asked several women who have achieved success in data science, analytics or other data roles to share their experience and advice with younger generations of women interested in establishing or advancing careers in data.

Adita Karkera – Chief Data Officer, Deloitte Government & Public Services


One of my early lessons that I still live by today is that it’s okay to take risks, its’s okay to fail and it’s okay to make mistakes. As women, we are often too hard on ourselves. I have learned to be prepared, to do my homework, and then be visible and not be afraid to voice my opinions. After all, I am in the room for a reason.

Sundas Khalid – Principal Analytics Lead, Google Search Ads

LinkedIn | YouTube

I wish someone had told me early on in my career how important it is to speak up in meetings. It impacts your career more than you think and gets you added visibility. I used to believe that I needed to hold off my opinion in the meetings until I became the subject matter expert. Then one day, my skip manager pulled me aside and said, "you don't need to be a subject matter expert to contribute to the conversation or have an opinion." Sometimes you can provide a different perspective that other people in the room are not thinking about. Another related piece of advice is to speak up early so you don't run out of things to say because everyone else has said it.

Sadie St. Lawrence – Founder and CEO, Human Machine Collaboration Institute; Founder and President, Women in Data


One piece of advice I wish I'd grasped at the start of my career is the significance of self-advocacy, celebrating my achievements, and being clear about my desires. Initially, I was worried about appearing arrogant and battled with self-doubt. However, as I progressed in my career and began leading teams, I discovered how rewarding it was to see my team members do just that. So, don't hold back—speak up, chase your goals, and openly express your ambitions.

Claudia Pohlink – Head of Data Intelligence Center, Deutsche Bahn


It is important to raise your voice. If you want to be heard, you have to have the courage to say something. If you want to be visible, you have to appear on the scene and score points with competent contributions. If you've got a seat at an important table, you have to use it. Please don't let any opportunities pass you by. It can also go wrong. So what? Be brave!

Sunanda Shanbhag – Senior Data Scientist, LexisNexis Risk Solutions


Early in my career, I wish I had known the importance of self-confidence. It’s important to own your work and share it confidently with the world, without overthinking others’ opinions. They key is to believe in yourself. Believing in yourself transforms the way others perceive and interact with you. This mindset will not only help you get your foot in the door, but also inspire you to achieve success in any field that you choose.

Susan Gatura – Senior Specialist Analytics and Insight, MultiChoice Group



One crucial piece of advice that has significantly impacted my career is the importance of balancing technical expertise with strong soft skills. While technical proficiency is undoubtedly essential, the ability to effectively communicate, collaborate, and lead is equally critical for success. In the fast-paced and collaborative environment of the tech industry, possessing excellent technical skills is a prerequisite. However, these skills are most valuable when complemented by the ability to convey complex technical concepts to non-technical stakeholders, work seamlessly in a team, and adapt to the ever-changing demands of the field.

Furthermore, soft skills are instrumental in career progression. The capacity to lead projects, mentor colleagues, and effectively communicate the value of technical initiatives to decision-makers can set individuals apart in their career trajectories. Therefore, my advice is to invest in developing not only your technical proficiency but also your soft skills. Attend workshops on effective communication, leadership training programs, and actively seek opportunities to collaborate with colleagues from various departments.