In celebration of International Day of Women and Girls in Science this year, we spoke with Migena Mana, a data scientist at the Adecco Group Technology Center in Berlin, Germany to learn more about her experience as a woman working as a scientist.

 

In celebration of International Day of Women and Girls in Science this year, we spoke with Migena Mana, a data scientist at the Adecco Group Technology Center in Berlin, Germany to learn more about her experience as a woman working in the STEM fields and her advice for other women looking to pursue similar goals.

Q: What makes you so passionate about data science? Why do you love what you do?

One thing I love about data science is that it will never be outdated and it will always have the same or greater impact on the world. I also like the amount of freedom it gives you when choosing your career. It is quite a broad field and it can be applied to anything only to improve it. Robotics, language processing, cost optimization - you name it, data science can improve it.

Q: What made you first fall in love with data science – or science in general – as a field of study and an industry?

It allows me to be creative in a different way every day. Data science is thought as an exact science concerned only with maths and statistics but it’s actually about looking at the data set with a critical eye and trying to find underlying correlation.

Q: Have you ever felt excluded in this field?

I was one of the few women in the field both in my bachelors and masters, but I didn’t whatsoever experience any gender-related exclusion during university. Here, at the Adecco Group, differently from my previous job experiences, we have a very diverse environment, which feels much nicer. However, I really appreciate that my colleagues always made me feel comfortable and never excluded.

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Q: What are some of the ways we as a society can encourage women to pursue more STEM careers, in your opinion?

Companies can offer scholarships or online courses dedicated to women in science. They can also post female-only positions, to encourage women to apply more in jobs in STEM fields. However, you cannot change the society if you don’t focus on the young generation. So, the students starting from early age should be introduced with examples of successful scientists both male and female, and later on provided with the same opportunities to be a part of STEM fields.

Q: Have you ever been called a “female” data scientist?

I have sometimes been called a female scientist, when I was the only female in the team. Hearing this, makes me feel as if being a female was one of the main assets that I, as a candidate applying for the job, had to offer and hence the main reason why I got hired. So, I’d be very happy if we were called ‘data scientists’ instead of ‘female data scientists.’ At the Adecco Group, I feel really comfortable, not only because I have many female colleagues, but I also get much support and equal treatment from all the other colleagues.

Q: What would you say to women and girls looking to breaking into STEM fields or simply move their career forward but keep running into barriers?

Research shows that most females don’t apply for a job position unless they are 100% qualified, unlike men who tend to apply even when they fulfil only 60% of the requirements. To females breaking into STEM fields: If you are passionate about it, don’t underestimate yourself and go for it. If you already are a part of STEM fields and you want to move forward with your career, just remember you have accomplished everything on your own. When you dream bigger, you can do bigger. If some male colleague of yours, in the same environment, but with a different mindset, can achieve something, so can you, even though you might feel excluded sometimes.

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