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Women in Data – “I hope we can do this again.”

Women (and some men) in Data.

Eva Murray admits she was a little apprehensive about chairing the recent Women in Data event hosted by The Information Lab Ireland in Dublin.

“I don’t know what I expected to be honest,” says the Head of BI at EXASOLAG and one half of the #MakeoverMonday team. “My initial reservation was how would me and three other women talking about our experiences help the others and how it was really that applicable.”

“But it turned out to be a really good discussion and I feel we could have spoken for at least another hour. I think the conversation really flowed. We all got on very well and people got to contribute their opinions and comments and experiences.”

On the morning of the event in late September, Eva was joined at the helm by Barbara McCarthy, Director of Engineering at HubSpotClaire Shirley Malone, Senior Manager of Global Revenue Operations at Google and Flora Devlin, Senior Product Analyst at Intercom.

“While there was panel of four women and it was a podium discussion there was no podium,” says Eva, “so everyone was sitting at the same level and it helped to make everyone included.”

“We spoke about how we got to where we are and some of the challenges we faced and what were some key opportunities and also obstacles along the way,” says Eva. “We talked about the things that we said yes to and that it takes a lot of hard work to get there but being brave and jumping at opportunities and not passing them up was key.”

“So having courage is important but also being kind to others. Not being a doormat and ‘oh I have to be likable’ but just being genuine and not just the usual CV stuff ‘I’m a team player’. But how you can contribute and help others.”

Panelists and audience members also touched on mentoring and leadership programs and systems in place to help people work on their skills and knowledge. Everyone agreed that the availability of education was fundamental to their career advancement and their overall sense of well-being and value.

Clíona dePaor, BI Consultant with Version1, was impressed by the strength of the panel at the event.

“I’ve been to a few of these events and this one had a really strong panel,” she says. “It was very well done in that one person was hosting it who was a member of the panel rather than someone just interviewing other people. The four panelists were all very good. They were similar enough in that they had enough in common that they could talk about the subject but there was enough of a difference to have a variety which made it a big draw for those who were there.”

Eva Murray talks about her experiences at Women in Data in Dublin

“What’s really valuable for me going to something like this,” she continues, “is that I work in a male dominated industry and while I don’t need my mentors to be female by any means, it’s quite heartening to see women who may not have started in a computer science background, getting to a very successful position in their careers and for me it’s fascinating to see how they went about that.”

Louise Shorten of Perception Data Consulting agrees.

“Many of the points discussed, such as impostor syndrome, being brave, taking risks and allowing yourself to fail, could resonate with both men and women alike. But I think they’re particularly valuable for women because we are under-represented in leadership roles, especially in STEM disciplines. Platforms like this allow women to build their network and get inspired by the stories of others. They provide fresh perspective and allow you to step back from your day-to-day tasks and reflect on your career and the careers of others. I got a real sense of the passion each of the women on the panel have for their careers and it highlighted for me how important that is if you want to be successful in your field. It was really interesting hearing about their journeys and milestones along the way.”

“We had a bit of a chat after and everybody seemed really encouraged and upbeat,” says Eva. “I hope we can do this again. People were keen to connect with each other. It was great to hear people talk so openly.”

Women in Data took place in the Herbert Park Hotel, Ballsbridge on September 14th. It was followed that afternoon by a Tableau User Group Workshop and in the evening by a preview of The All-Ireland Final, The Road to Sam. All events were hosted by The Information Lab Ireland.

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