Diversity in hiring process helps Microsoft fuel opportunity for women data scientists
It’s no secret that the representation of women in the technology workforce is lower than it should be.
For predictive analytics professionals, a Burch Works study showed that women comprised 26% of the workforce in 2019, an increase over the previous year of only 2%.
Microsoft Corp. is taking its own steps to change that. Through active participation in major industry gatherings, such as WiDS 2020, and paying close attention to the hiring process, the company is looking to change workforce percentages.
“We make sure that we have women on every set of interviews,” said John Hoegger (pictured), principal data science manager at Microsoft. “What’s it like to be a woman on this team? If it’s all men, you can’t answer that question. I’ve now got a team of 30 data scientists and half of them are women.”
Hoegger spoke with Sonia Tagare, host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the Women in Data Science conference in Stanford, California. They discussed the growth of WiDS over the past four years and advice for women seeking to join companies as data scientists.
From conference to a movement
When the Microsoft manager discovered that the WiDS event had only one sponsor — WalMart Labs — in its inaugural year, he quickly decided that his company should become a supporter too. The organization has since expanded its portfolio of global events to include “datathons” and the development of role models for women data scientists.
“It’s amazing to see how this event has grown over the four years,” Hoegger said. “There’s all of these new regional events that have been set up every year. It’s turned from just a conference into a movement.”
Microsoft has hosted various WiDS events at its headquarters in Redmond, Washington, along with New York and Boston, according to Hoegger. Asked about what advice he would offer for women seeking positions in the data science field, Hoegger encouraged an open approach that would provide candidates with useful insight into the company culture.
“Go to those interviews and ask what it’s like to be a woman on the team,” Hoegger said. “You want to ensure that the team you join and company you join are inclusive and really value diversity in the workforce.”
Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the Women in Data Science conference.