Big Data

Get a woman's touch on your Big Data team

If there's a gender imbalance on your Big Data strategy team, you're doing yourself a great disservice.

How many women do you have on your Big Data strategy team? I'm guessing not enough. As you might imagine, there should be an equal balance of men and women on your Big Data strategy team. That includes data scientists, analytic leaders and managers, content experts, and possibly business analysts.

Although all the management and leadership sages incessantly extol the virtues of diversity, this is still a problem I see on Big Data strategy teams--especially when it comes to gender diversity. You need a good balance of men and women on your Big Data strategy team.

Women as data scientists

Women are terrific analytics and data scientists. There's little doubt in anyone's mind that analytic talent is gender neutral. Some of the smartest people I know are women and they have good representation in the math and science departments in college.

When I was pursuing my undergraduate degree in computer science, about half of my classmates were female. Things haven't changed much since then; however, I don't see the same proportion in the workplace. This tells me that women are being overlooked in the hiring process. This is a huge mistake, especially when companies are having such a hard time finding data scientists.

The added benefit of having female data scientists is twofold: they bring harmony and great creative power to the team. The team runs smoother when women are involved as they temper the huge egos that men usually bring to the table. Men tend to act more civilized when women are around and this eases the storming phase of team development.

Furthermore, women tend to have better imaginations, which is very important on a Big Data strategy team. They have a natural ability to think outside of the box and draw unlikely connections that can extricate a team from idea silo.

Women as analytic leaders

Although women are great data scientists, they're even better analytic leaders. Remember, to be an effective analytic leader takes special analytic skills--you cannot just expect any leader with the right title and a team of data scientists to work well. With this in mind, women have a remarkable ability to influence a Big Data strategy team--far better than men.

Female analytic leaders have a great ability to relate. Having a background in analytics helps them communicate effectively with the team and fosters trust and respect. In addition, they have an innate ability to connect on an emotional level. They don't sympathize--they empathize.

They are very good at internalizing what the team is dealing with so their leadership is authentic, engendering genuine followers. Again, this brings harmony to the team, but it's more effective when it's coming from the leader.

Women are also very effective at evangelism and stakeholder engagement--another vital role that the strategic leaders must play. Women have a communication style that is penetrating but non-threatening. They are very good at eliciting support from those in favor of the strategy and neutralizing resistance from those that don't. They also have a tendency to be well connected with the informal systems that run the company like rituals, stories, and group norms.

Finally, they network well with the other women in the organization which has a powerful effect on how well the organization adopts the new strategy.

Conclusion

If there's a gender imbalance on your Big Data strategy team, you're doing yourself a great disservice. Women are terrific analysts, terrific leaders, and terrific contributors to your overall goals. Not only do they bring all the creative benefits that any diverse culture would bring, they also bring a powerful harmony that's absent in most of the Big Data strategy teams that I see today. Take some time today to survey the gender diversity on your Big Data strategy team. You may find that it needs a woman's touch.

About

John Weathington is President and CEO of Excellent Management Systems, Inc., a management consultancy that helps executives turn chaotic information into profitable wisdom.

9 comments
ms.spock
ms.spock

Your sexist and illogical opinions, John Weathington, have the opposite effect of what you intended. And kinda make me mad. I can compete with my male counterparts for big data jobs without you lending a hand to my "weaker-sex" self, thank you very much. Since when do women have a corner on creativity and empathy? And who says only guys have big egos? Plleez. Wake up and join the 21st century.

BuckG
BuckG

This sexist rubbish has no place on a website that is supposed to be dedicated to business and information technology issues (real ones, not this imagined garbage you're trying to push in this ridiculous article). I'm very disappointed in TechRepublic for allowing this sort of article to be presented on their site.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

But seriously, this sort of PC crap needs to be tossed in the shredder. "Journalists" of such low ability as this one need to be unemployed or find work more suitable. As I said in a comment on another of these ridiculous articles: "Why do we "need" to have 50% women just because they are 50%-ish of the population?" That is the most asinine premise ever. It smacks of the old Soviet Union where people were told where they would be working. Such lunacy has no place is a free society. People will go where they want. We don't need "elites" like this nutburger foisting "diversity" on us. Then you end up with "affirmative action" hires who are often not the most qualified. The employer and the employee both suffer. There is no such thing as a "gender imbalance" except in his twisted world. Diversity (how I've come to loathe that word) is going to be the death of us. Rather condescending and patronizing with his comment about a "women's touch". I don't recall having read any of his other "articles", but if this is an example of his work, I think I have not missed out on anything.

elleno
elleno

So sick of the politically correct crap. Who cares what gender the person is as long as they can do the job. I would appreciate a competent woman (or man) on the team. I would not want an incompetent woman(or man) on the team ever. There is a glass ceiling for incompetence. About time these two bit journos realized this.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Yes I'd like teams of women to touch my big data :D

technomom_z
technomom_z

.....mostly because they're usually not backed up with any kind of science but more because I know your editor would have shot it down immediately had the genders been replaced in the article. I'm good at big data because I've worked my ass off in my 28 years in IT, the last 5 of it in analytics, not because I'm a woman.

svilla8874
svilla8874

I can't believe this guy passing off his opinions this way. I hate it when anyone IT is pigenholed as a particular personality type. We come in all types, male and female and we all have different strengths. I think we do have a common trait for problem solving. To me, the premise of this article smacked of descrimination.

random2010
random2010

Couldn't agree more. Very patronising article. It is your hard work and experience which make you an asset. I kinda wish the editor had swapped the genders around in the article as you suggest just to see whether it caused amusement or outrage :-)

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