The data industry needs you! More than 120 women applied for the “Women in Data” scholarship. 50 of them received one of the coveted scholarship places for the Data Analyst course at StackFuel. And unfortunately, it’s true: the data industry is still predominantly male. Just one-sixth of data experts are female, with a negative impact on business, development and research. The COVID-19 crisis has been particularly detrimental to women’s career advancement. This is exactly where the StackFuel and Telefónica scholarship should have a positive impact and qualify women for data professions and make them fit for the future with data skills.
Marina is one of 50 winners. She applied for the scholarship in a difficult life situation and wanted to reshape her professional life. The pandemic year 2020 changed her life abruptly, but Marina took courage from this experience to reorient herself professionally. In an interview, she tells us why the how running a marathon helped her in the scholarship, how she discovered her enthusiasm for data, and why she feels that companies in particular have a responsibility to promote women in the field of data.
Hello Marina, congratulations on winning a scholarship place as one of our Women in Data 2021. What can you tell us about yourself?
I am originally from Saint Petersburg in Russia and I’ve been living in Munich for seven years. I’ve been working as a project manager for the last four years, but I’m currently looking for work.
What has been your career path so far and what brought you here?
After school, I started a bachelor’s degree in Saint Petersburg in Romance studies with a special focus on Spanish language and literature. Immediately after graduating, I worked in my first job as a sales and project manager at a destination management company. I met my husband on a business trip and decided to move to Germany to join him. I then worked as a key account manager until I had my first child. I wanted to use the time at home with my baby and started a master’s degree and shortly before graduation, baby number two was born. So I wrote my diploma with two kids on my arm and had my second degree in the bag in November 2019.
So your master’s degree came just before the COVID-19 pandemic. What changes did 2020 bring to your life?
It wasn’t foreseeable after I graduated, but 2020 turned my life upside down at that time. Suddenly I was standing there all alone, without a husband and with two children in the middle of a pandemic. I couldn’t leave for Russia to fly to my parents or visit my friends, who I hadn’t seen for a year and a half. The job market had also changed a lot during that time. I had numerous job interviews and noticed that women, especially mothers, are still strongly disadvantaged when looking for a job. That’s why I’m still looking for a new job at the moment, but I’m not letting it get me down. I see it as an experience and so I’m always looking for new ways to learn something.
The “Women in Data” scholarship came just at the right time. How did you hear about the scholarship and what convinced you to apply?
Absolutely. I realized that further education in data analytics would be a perfect entry into the IT and data industry for me. That’s why I was looking for a training provider and found StackFuel. At the time, I hadn’t made a commitment, but then one day I saw an ad on Instagram for the Women in Data scholarship. So I thought, “Yes, I’m a woman and I want to be one of the Women in Data. I’m very happy it worked out and I’m in. It will be a new challenge to broaden my knowledge horizon and I hope that after the scholarship I will be able to apply this knowledge professionally.
Where did your interest in working with data come from?
Data is everywhere. It’s nothing more than just a collection of facts. I really like looking at graphs when I read magazines, because I want to interpret them myself and get an idea. I’m always interested in where the data comes from, whether it’s relevant, and how it was collected. I guess I’ve always had this fascination with data.
Are you still afraid of data, programming or mathematics?
I am afraid of mathematics, but also of data, statistics. But I think that’s a good thing. Last year I was also afraid of not being able to run ten kilometers. Recently I ran a half marathon and I want to run another marathon this fall. I think everything you tackle, you take one step at a time. It’s about just starting, doing it despite the fear and sticking with it. Then the fear will go away on its own.
Do you have any advice for other women who are still hesitant and don’t trust themselves with a data career?
I can only set the best example myself. I’m still incredibly scared of the IT and data industry, and I have no idea what’s in store for me in the scholarship and beyond. But I am curious and open to these changes. I’m sure that any woman who stands alone in this field is actually not alone, because there are many more coming after her. She’s paving the way for these women who will follow her.
From your point of view, what steps do we need to take in society and business to promote equality?
It’s totally understandable that it’s not easy for women to choose male-dominated majors or education paths like engineering or computer science. When you know you’re sitting in the lecture hall as one of five other women in a circle of 100 men. As a result, many women choose more female-dominated or mixed majors like psychology, teaching, or foreign languages. This gender gap already emerges at university. But I also believe that the big companies in Germany have the power and resources to promote women and provide them with further training within the company. I would like to see more support programs in the future to pick up women where they are in their careers and train them there. That will take time; I realize that. But I believe that large corporations can certainly afford measures like offering internal training to women without a technical degree, but who are motivated. That way, we would also have more female talent with the potential to be leaders later on. This is how we can promote women in business and society.
How to become a data analyst?
We firmly believe that all women should have the same opportunities to pursue a career as a data analyst. Whether you think you’re disadvantaged or not, whether you’re already working in a data-related environment or changing to a new career, we’ll give you the chance to hone your data skills and shape your career path.
At the moment no new edition of the scholarship has been announced, but by following our social media accounts on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Xing, you’ll be the first to know about new events, scholarships and other great promotions and content.
Want to find out if you’re eligible for one of our 100% funded training programs? Our article “How to get an education voucher” tells you whether you meet the requirements and how you can apply for an education voucher.