Overcoming bro culture as a woman in data science (alias “LOL”)

Benötigte Lesezeit: 4 Minuten

Today’s guest is one of the co-creators of Chirp – Sarah Haq. Sarah is a Senior Data Scientist at Artsy and a Mentor at Women in AI Academy as well as Subject Expert Contributor for the Certified Data Science Practitioner 110 Exam.

I picked two questions and their answers from the podcast to give you a glimpse on her story. Hear the full episode on Spotify.

Sarah, if your professional life until today would be a movie (or a song) – which title would it have? Why?

„Laugh out loud“ would be the title of my professional life so far. It’s been a very unique experience. I used to work in insurance and moved through insurance into the world of data science and tech. Any company I worked in came with its own challenges. It took me, I guess, five years or six years to laugh out loud to not take everything …  to not hold on to everything so internally, thinking,  I am the sole problem. Like I said, each place came with it’s own challenges. It’s been a learning, up to this point. 

You say about your career in tech that you will leave (quote) “the broken system that is the world of tech mid career”. Can you elaborate on this? Why is the system broken?

This is a very personal question, and let me let me just share an anecdote, which summarizes why it’s broken. Germany celebrates International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, and I believe in this cultural concept of giving women a small token or something on these days. So a male colleague asked a female colleagues in HR, if on Women’s Day, they would send something from the company. And the female colleague responded: „We can’t. We can’t do that, we don’t want to offend the men.“

This might not even be representing the women and how she feels about situation. This is representing how that leadership feels about situation. And let’s face it, who are in the leadership teams? Who are the people of influence? It sucks that even on a day, which has been culturally, historically, given to women, even on that day – you cannot prioritize women or think about their needs.

That doesn’t just apply to this example. It’s everything. If you have like a sort of a drinking culture. What about people that don’t drink? Not even religiously, some people don’t drink because it’s not a healthy. But nobody thinks about having an event to include those people.

So everything is designed to please a certain group of people in the industry. It’s very personal, so I did some research and, again, understand that this could be biased for regions, or different countries in the world have different perspectives. This report published by TrustRadius in 2021 focuses on women in America. Some of the stats resonated with me and I just wanted to share them.

So, 72% of women in tech, have worked at company where corporate culture is based perceived pervasive. This was 71% last year, so it shows that even during lockdown in work, remote working time, there has been no change. This this sort of bro culture is still very, very prevailing.

Before we’re going into why this is bad, I just want to share some other further comparisons which is: 83% of women experience it in Sales and 80% of women in Marketing. However, only 63% of women in engineering experience bro-culture. Which is sort of theme I’m in. So I’ve had the good fortune of working with 37% of women who don’t see these issues. It’s been very frustrating for me this last year.

72% of women in tech are regularly outnumbered by men in business meetings by these two to one, and 26% of women report being outnumbered by five to one or more. 78% of women feel they have to work harder than their co workers to prove their worth. Women in Tech are four times more likely to experience gender bias as an obstacle to promotion, but actually only 39% of women see gender bias as a barrier to promotion.

What’s even more worrying is women of color in tech are less confident than white women about promotion prospects and this gap is increased by three times. So it shows that the industry is not improving. It’s either staying the same, or it’s going backwards.

This is quite a detailed report. There’s also, you know things around burnout. I think 57% of women feel burnt out compared to men, and surprisingly women are divided whether remote work has helped them or hurt them in their career right now.

The problem with bro culture is that it manifests in through a bad working environment.  I’ve discussed before these issues around sexual harassment. This happens when you have these cultures where you start encouraging locker room talk you start encouraging all sorts of toxic behavior.

This paper summarizes also how to support women in tech.  78% of women say that they should promote more women into leadership positions, and other solutions include providing mentoring, conducting unconscious bias training and offering equal paternity and maternity leave. Which possibly might be different in this part of the world – but again like I said, these are very regional specifics. But I think they at least capture my perspective.


Tina Nord ist Marketing-Expertin, Autorin und Sprecherin. Die Kommunikationswirtin beschäftigt sich seit mehr als zehn Jahren mit Content Marketing. Seit 2016 erforscht Tina den Einfluss maschinellen Lernens auf Content und engagiert sich für die Repräsentation und Beteiligung von Frauen an der Entwicklung von KI.

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