By Dr Frances Denny, Exploristics Business Operations Manager
What always struck me when I was studying at uni and doing my postgrad was the imbalance of the female/male ratio of those studying Stats. It was even more apparent in postgrad research. I’ve often wondered why this was the case. Whilst I can’t give a definitive theory as to why I think this was so (which goes against my Statistician compass), in my opinion I think it comes down to individuals and our thinking patterns. We all approach things in a different manner and often from another perspective. This may or may not be linked to gender.
To be a good Statistician, it’s a given that you need good logic and analytical skills. To be innovative, you need to be experimental and willing to try new things. At Exploristics we have a team of great individuals who all think a bit differently to each other, thus creating a very innovative, challenging working environment that strives to develop transformative methods for tackling problems in the Pharmaceutical and Life Science sectors.
We pride ourselves in having a diverse workforce employing people from all walks of life. We have a generally good gender balance across the company. I am particularly encouraged by the number of women we employ, all with a STEM-related background. When I look at the number of women vs men filling roles such as Statistician, Statistical Programmer and Data Scientist, we currently have a 3:2 ratio. Further still, when I look at the number of women we have at management level, we outrank the men (albeit by a small margin of 5:4). Given that we’re a small company this is no mean feat.
More often do we see encouraging reports which show the gender gap closing at entry and mid-level positions, but this often tails off towards the senior and C-level. Many reasons have been cited to help explain this, one in particular being that women find it hard to stay in the workforce due to family considerations. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, reports of this nature have increased, with a real worry that due to ongoing restrictions involving childcare and businesses collapsing, the gender gap isn’t going to continue to decrease but instead widen. I agree that now isn’t the time to forget about diversity within the workplace, it needs to be at the forefront now more than ever to ensure we don’t lose the valuable contributions that women make.
Whilst I (and we as a company) don’t have one straight answer to this particular problem, we will continue to assess and evaluate our business, its structure, and most importantly our people. We will aim to keep an even playing field for all, making sure to reduce barriers and having clear steps to career progression.
I’ll hold my hands up, and admit that until recent times, I hadn’t considered how crucial it was that I help play a part to inform others of the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). It was only through Exploristics committing to being a company that put EDI at the forefront and signing up to Diversity Mark Charter, as well as the WISE Campaign that made me take stock and realise that I also had a personal role to play, and being in a position of leadership that I am able to give an example as to what a career in STEM can lead to. I believe it is important for all women, particularly those with a STEM background to share their story, to become a role model for the younger generations, to let them know of the type of opportunities that are out there. We are all responsible for helping to fill the talent pipeline.