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82% of young UK females lack the confidence to work with data

82% of young UK females lack the confidence
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While half of young females (16- to 21-year-olds) in the UK believe working with data will play a major role in their future career, only 18% believe they are capable, according to research by leading high performance analytics database company Exasol. The research also reveals that just a fifth (22%) of these young females feel highly skilled in storytelling, and only 18% believe they are highly skilled in decision-making; both of which are essential in data-related careers.  

“There is an ongoing gender diversity problem in STEM fields, with women representing just 15% of data scientists today,” says Helena Schwenk, Market Intelligence Lead and Data Evangelist at Exasol. “Our research suggests this is partly due to a crisis in confidence among young females. They acknowledge that the ability to work with data is becoming increasingly crucial in the workplace but lack the self-assurance in working with and handling data. 32% of females rated their own self-confidence as weak.”

To some extent, the education systems in the UK are holding young people back. The research shows that only a fifth (22%) of female respondents strongly agree that their schooling has given them the skills and confidence to use data. 

On the flip side, the appetite for learning and change is definitely there. 60% of young females in the UK agree that learning data skills should be more prominent in their education. Additionally, 74% want to regularly gain new skills and experiences in general and 72% want to feel that what they are doing will actually make a difference to their employer and wider society. 

“Educators have a significant role to play in upskilling young women who want to pursue data-led careers,” adds Schwenk. “This calls for a change in the current curriculum to place data literacy at the fore and teach our future workforce not only how to understand data, but also how to communicate it. Building data literacy is as much about developing the ability to interpret data as it is about narrating meaningful stories revealed by facts, and spotting patterns and anomalies. If we don’t nurture these future data champions now, businesses are in danger of missing out on employees that can make data-driven decisions to solve both their data challenges today and some of humanity’s biggest challenges of the future, such as climate change.”

More insights into the attitudes and understanding that young people currently in higher education or just entering the world of work have towards data can be found in Exasol’s report: “D/NATIVES: The future of your business.” 

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