It all started with a mouse. Or more appropriately, a batch of rodents.

Sadie St. Lawrence was working in a neuroscience lab studying emotional learning and memory. She was on track to get her PhD and become a neuroscience professor. As part of her lab research, Sadie had been caring for a batch of rodents over the past several weeks. Now, the experiment called for euthanization.

“As much as I loved other aspects of the job, I knew I didn’t want that to be part of my life,” Sadie explained. “I went home in tears and began considering alternate careers.”

An avid researcher and Passion Planner devotee, Sadie did what came naturally: she made a list. On one side of the paper, she wrote the parts of her job she liked. On the other side, she wrote the parts she didn’t like. (Unsurprisingly, rodent research earned the #1 spot.)

Sadie quickly uncovered a hidden love: data.

“I loved analyzing the data when I was done with my experiments and finding insights in it. Data is a non-biased way to conduct discovery and get answers for whatever questions you might have.”

Getting Into Data Science: a Woman in a Sea of Men

Soon afterward, Sadie transitioned from neuroscience to data science. About a year into her masters program, she made another startling realization. She was a woman in a sea of men.

Sadie commented, “I looked up one day and realized there was only one other woman in my data science program. I knew that if I was going to survive in this field, I needed to have a community.”

Where are the Women in Data?


of data scientists in the U.S. are men (Zippia, 2022)

4 to 1

Men outnumber women in the data field

132 years

to close the global gender gap overall

Sadie once again turned a potential obstacle into an opportunity. She started a meetup page in her local city and extended an invitation for a networking event. Just five women in data science registered. When the event began, Sadie found herself sitting alone with a sign that said “Women in Data.”

“The sign should have said ‘Woman in Data,’” Sadie said with a laugh. “At that point I was very distraught. I had taken this step to put myself out there and connect with other women in data science, but no one was there to connect with. I called my partner and said I was going to pack up and go home. He advised me just to stay 15 more minutes.”

Not long after, two women showed up and one brought a friend. The group had a great conversation. The rest, as they say, is history.

Women in Data: Connecting, Growing, and Leading Together

Since its humble beginnings, Women in Data has grown to 40,000 members across 55 countries. The grassroots effort has largely been driven by the community itself.

“I give all the credit to our chapter leads, our members, and our community. It’s all about the individuals who share the culture of Women in Data and show up to represent every day. Everyone embodies an openness to connect with one another, which creates a strong sense of belonging.”

The nonprofit organization provides a welcoming, empowering community where data enthusiasts of all backgrounds can connect, grow, and lead together. Members range from Chief Data Officers and other data leaders to those just getting started. Many members have gone from thinking about getting into data engineering to successfully switching careers, in large part because of the group’s support.

Sadie said, “It’s incredible to see how helpful the collective knowledge of the community is. There’s an attitude that wherever you’re at in your data journey, there’s space to grow. Someone in the community has the knowledge you may need and wants to share it with you.”

Increasing Diversity in Data Careers

Since day one, Women in Data has had an unwavering mission: increase diversity in data careers. And with good reason. The data industry is booming, and jobs in data science, data engineering, and other data roles are increasing steadily. And yet, men outnumber women four to one in most data roles.

It’s not only a matter of gender equality. Increasing diversity in data is critical to prevent the risks of biased data and to bring forward ideas, products, and services that benefit all individuals in society.

“The more diverse audiences we can get into this space, the more innovation we’ll have. If someone doesn’t look like you, there is a good chance they don’t think like you. And if they don’t think like you, they can probably help you think differently.”

Thankfully, things are trending in the right direction. Organizations like Women in Data are working to raise visibility for workplace equality and to empower more women to get into fast-growing fields like data and technology. And a growing number of companies are committed to increasing diversity through conscious hiring and recruitment, professional development, and leadership and community programs.

All of us can help make a difference. Get involved by becoming a champion to help Women in Data expand their impact. Together, we can increase diversity in data careers.

Advice for Women Who Want to Get Into Data

Sadie shared the following advice to help women get into the data industry.

Have a clear "why" for what's motivating you.

“Your ‘why’ doesn’t have to be perfect, so don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. It can be as straightforward as needing a higher salary to earn more money to provide for yourself or your family. It really doesn’t matter what your why is, as long as you have something that resonates with you. That will give you the tenacity you need to stick with it.”

Commit to a growth mindset.

“Working in data is a journey. I’m still taking classes and learning every day. One of the exciting things about being in this industry is there is always new technology and new discoveries. It will be a continual learning process. The growth mindset is a way to be more compassionate to yourself and remember that you can learn anything you put your mind to.”

Embrace AI/ML.

“When you use things like chatGPT and large language models, it can kind of feel like magic. But when you pull back the curtain—particularly on ML—you see it’s just a mathematical formula. It’s important to go into the details about how the system works to get more diverse audiences into the space. We need to make sure the quality of how these applications are being distributed will be equal and beneficial for all.”

Connect with others.

Women in Data offers hundreds of local chapters, as well as specialized programs that run quarterly and monthly. You can find everything you need to connect with others: mentorship, education and study groups, networking sessions, and more.

Ask "dumb" questions.

“Usually the question you feel is a ‘dumb question’ is the question that needs to be asked. Please ask it! It helps us break out of the echo chamber of what everyone is talking about. We need new questions to drive innovative thinking in this space.”

Wait 15 minutes.

Women in Data might never have gotten off the ground if Sadie had gone home early at that first meetup.

“I tell everyone, even when you think you can’t go on anymore, just give it 15 more minutes. Who knows what will happen? It could be the start of something big.”

Interested in Getting Into Data or Supporting Women in Data?

Good! We need more women in data science, analytics, and engineering. Together, we can close the gender gap.

To help increase diversity in data, take part in our Elevating Women in Data fundraiser, which helps provide scholarships for those who need help covering the cost of a Women in Data membership. To receive data insights and resources from Data Clymer, subscribe or follow us on LinkedIn.