International Women's Day: Support from colleagues is essential

  • 08/03/2024
  • Written by Madelaine Lauw

To celebrate International Women’s Day and as part of our Data Matters theme, we caught up with Data Specialist Madelaine Lauw to talk about some of the challenges she has faced in the workplace and how her colleagues at NOE CPC make her feel supported.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is inclusion. Has there ever been a time where you did not feel included while working in the field of data?

In one of my previous roles, my task was to present data based on a template which was created before I joined. The team was not flexible to change, therefore the reports had to be created in a certain format and my suggestions were ignored. This was when I did not feel included in the delivery of my reports or data processes.

Based on your personal experience, what factors have been important in making you feel included within the data industry?

To feel included is to be engaged in discussions and meetings, to be able to have a voice and raise an opinion or suggestion without being readily dismissed. It is also to be given trust to complete tasks and projects without being micromanaged. This would be applicable in most industries, not just data/tech, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

I feel like a valued member of the team at NOE CPC and there is no discrimination in our team. My teammates are very approachable and helpful. We get along and work well together. My opinions are valued, I have been given many opportunities to present my ideas which are always carefully considered, and I have been trusted to lead on several projects.

What else do you think could be done to make women feel more included in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry? How important is the support of your colleagues and management?

As a traditionally male-dominated industry, it empowers women when they are included in discussions, decision making processes, delivering bigger scale projects, to be provided adequate training to deliver these projects to the best of their abilities and to be offered promotions into senior roles.

It is extremely important to receive support from team members, colleagues across the organisation and the management team to be successful in any given role. It is also essential to be acknowledged and subsequently rewarded for a job well done. I have seen my colleagues getting promoted, therefore, I believe when the opportunity is there, I would hopefully be put forward for it. It makes a difference to know that there is career progression within a role/team and that keeps the job exciting. In a previous bank staff role I had, I was covering for a role that was higher than the pay I received. I was in the position for more than two years. I pushed for the position to be advertised, and I was interviewed for it, but wasn't offered the position. It was offered to an external candidate who I was asked to train for the role, and I was very disheartened. During that time, I was also not given any kind of training to improve my skills. Subsequently, I left and obtained a better and permanent role with a higher salary.

Do you have any advice for women who might want to start a career in data?

For any woman interested in starting a career in data, it is paramount to be skilled in understanding and manipulating big data to provide meaningful data insight. Have an understanding of SQL/Query languages and a few tools for data analytics such as Excel, Power BI, Tableau etc. It would also be helpful to have a basic knowledge in programming languages and algorithms. And do not be afraid to request training to improve on your personal and professional development.

Having graduated with a Computer Science degree, this was definitely beneficial as it contributed to my analytical thinking and problem solving skills. When I started out, I obtained help from tech forums, where I could ask questions and get help as well as suggestions to improve my analytical thinking. My teammates are also helpful in providing useful guidance. In addition to tech forums, projects assigned to me encourage me to do my own research. This includes free online tutorials, and people around me keeping me up to date with the latest technology. As NHS staff, we can obtain certain training for free which is extremely beneficial. In recent months, I have been provided various training, such as Power BI and AI intelligence, to improve my knowledge, tech skills and to keep me updated.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day celebrates different types of women, both working and non-working women from all kinds of backgrounds.

As a working mum, I personally feel that it is important to have a good work/life balance and the flexibility to excel and prioritise efficiently both professionally and at home. The flexibility of being able to work from home particularly helps with this. I am encouraged to take regular breaks, able to do childcare drop off/pick up, start work earlier and finish on time without having to rush to the office and battle with commuting during rush hour. It has made me more productive, being able to focus on my assigned tasks and still deliver in a timely manner.

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