Coding Confidence: Inspiring Women in Data and Analytics

Women in Data and Analytics

Earlier this week, Datatonic and Cognify Search’s Stacked Pathways hosted our Inspiring Women in Data and Analytics panel. Our panelists were five women data leaders: Naomi Johnson, Director of Data Platform at Lyst, Priya O’Shea, Partner Sales Manager at Google Cloud, Jessica Franks, Senior Engineering Manager at Not On The High Street and Rachel Christian, Senior Manager at GoCardless, with Amber Cella, Co-Founder at Datatonic Academy, hosting the panel.

They discussed their career journeys as women, and how they overcame common challenges in their industries. Today, we share their key messages and responses to frequently asked questions from the audience. 

The tech industry, often hailed for its innovation and advancement, has long grappled with gender disparities. Despite progress, women in tech still face numerous challenges, ranging from assumptions about their expertise to the burden of imposter syndrome. Hear from our panelists about challenges they faced, and how they overcame them.

Women in Data and Analytics Panel

Assumptions and Bias in Expertise

One recurring theme of the panel highlighted a prevalent issue: the assumption that women are less senior or knowledgeable. 

“With a consulting background, I’ve had experiences in the past where myself and male colleagues have been presenting and even as the most senior person there, questions were directed to male colleagues.” – Rachel Christian, Senior Manager, GoCardless.

This biased behavior not only undermines women’s expertise but also starts a cycle where they must make a significant effort to simply prove themselves worthy of respect and recognition.

Jess Franks, Senior Engineering Manager at Not On The High Street, echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the need for women to go above and beyond to prove their capabilities. The transition between managers poses a particular challenge, as preconceived notions can overshadow qualifications that would have been evident in job interviews and formal hiring processes. 

Our speakers stressed the importance of overcoming these biases, urging women to seize opportunities presented to them and to not be afraid to assert their worth, by volunteering to answer questions and proving their knowledge.

Navigating Male-Dominated Spaces

Priya’s narrative shed light on the isolation experienced by women in tech, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds. 

“I’ve often found myself in a room as the only female, only brown person and only person under the age of fifty. It can feel uncomfortable not being around people with similar backgrounds and having to mention or subtly show how long you’ve been there instead of people thinking you’re the new intern.” – Priya O’Shea, Partner Sales Manager, Google Cloud

As the only female or minority in the room, it can be easy to feel additional scrutiny and the need to validate your presence. This emphasizes the importance of intentional networking and seeking support from communities and people in similar positions. By actively engaging with peers and mentors, women can create meaningful connections vital for professional growth, and become more confident in these situations. 

Confronting Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome, a pervasive challenge for women in tech, undermines confidence and stifles progress. Naomi Johnson, Director of Data Platform at Lyst, reflected on her career journey, acknowledging the need to combat self-doubt and embrace your achievements. This can be done by maintaining a strong internal dialogue and keeping a record of positive outcomes at work to remind yourself of your success and abilities. 

A Hewlett Packard internal report found that men are significantly less likely to self-reject when applying to jobs; men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women are only likely to apply only if they meet 100% of them.

“I spent so many years being terrified and feeling like I got lucky, thinking that if people look hard enough they’d see I’m not qualified. I didn’t get lucky, I’m smart, I earned my way here. Enough of the imposter syndrome.” – Rachel Christian, Senior Manager, GoCardless.

Rachel’s advice to her younger self resonates with many women battling imposter syndrome. She urges them to recognize their worth and reject the notion of luck by reminding yourself that even if you are the only woman in the room, you earnt your way there. By embracing their intelligence and placing emphasis on accomplishments, women can shatter the idea of self-doubt and thrive in their careers with confidence.

Embracing Opportunities and Growth

One of the key themes that emerged was the need to seize opportunities and embrace growth, despite fears or setbacks. Whether it’s confronting public speaking or pursuing new endeavors, there is transformative power in stepping outside of your comfort zone. 

“I hate public speaking but I’ve been putting myself forward for things ever since I was first asked to speak. I still feel nervous when I do it, but a little bit less, and I’ve met so many amazing people through doing it. When it scares you it’s probably what you should be trying to do.” – Naomi Johnson, Director of Data Platform, Lyst

Priya’s advice highlights the importance of perseverance and self-assurance, reminding women that career paths are not linear and comparing ourselves to our colleagues or friends is not always useful. 

“It’s not always helpful to compare yourself to other people. If it sounds good to you, go and do it. If you’re passionate about it or have an interest in it, your ability to succeed will be so much greater. Stop worrying about what you’re leaving behind and focus on what will make you happy. You have to enjoy what you do.” – Priya O’Shea, Partner Sales Manager, Google.


Our speakers provided many perspectives on the challenges and triumphs of women in the tech industry, but the same recurring themes shone through. Despite facing biases, isolation, and self-doubt, these women navigate their careers with resilience. Through mentorship, community support, and self-advocacy, they pave the way for future generations of women in tech, challenging norms and fostering a more inclusive and equitable industry. 

Find out more about Stacked Pathways mentoring, and take a look at our upcoming free training sessions to see how you can learn more to take the next step in your data + AI career.

Looking to take your next step? Take a look at our current vacancies.

Datatonic is Google Cloud’s 5x Partner of the Year with a wealth of experience developing data + AI solutions for leading businesses. Get in touch to kickstart your data + AI journey.

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