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General Assembly

Data Science Education Lags Behind in Diversity

Below is an article originally written by PowerToFly Partner General Assembly, and published on September 25, 2017. Go to General Assembly's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.

As gender and racial representation improve in other tech disciplines, the study of data science hasn't caught up.

In the past few years, much attention has been drawn to the dearth of women and people of color in tech-related fields. A recent article in Forbes noted, "Women hold only about 26% of data jobs in the United States. There are a few reasons for the gender gap: a lack of STEM education for women early on in life, lack of mentorship for women in data science, and human resources rules and regulations not catching up to gender balance policies, to name a few." Federal civil rights data further demonstrate that "black and Latino high school students are being shortchanged in their access to high-level math and science courses that could prepare them for college" and for careers in fields like data science.

As an education company offering tech-oriented courses at 20 campuses across the world, General Assembly is in a unique position to analyze the current crop of students looking to change the dynamics of the workplace.

Looking at GA data for our part-time programs (which typically reach students who already have jobs and are looking to expand their skill set as they pursue a promotion or a career shift), here's what we found: While great strides have been made in fields like web development and user experience (UX) design, data science — a relatively newer concentration — still has a ways to go in terms of gender and racial equality.

Gender Equality in Data Science

For our analysis, we went through five months' worth (September 2016 through January 2017) of anonymized enrollment data for part-time General Assembly students (those enrolled in 10- to 12-week evening courses). It is important to note that our full-time Immersive course data yielded similar results, but we chose to focus on part-time data because the sample size was bigger.

First, let's take a look specifically at the gender breakdown of students in these courses.

On average, our part-time courses skew more female (56.5%) than male (42.3%).

Some courses, like Product Management and Data Analytics, seem to come close to gender parity. Front-End Web Development falls in right around the average across all courses, and in Digital Marketing and User Experience Design, both more consumer-facing fields, two-thirds or more students are women.

But the Data Science course shows the largest composition of male students — and the lowest of female students, at just 35.3%.

Race and Ethnicity in Data Science

Turning to the same anonymized data set, let's now look at race and ethnicity. Is GA's Data Science course equally lacking in minority participation?

At first glance, it appears that Data Science courses fare pretty well in diversity: The percentage of enrolled students who are white (46.1%) is less than average (46.9%).

But looking specifically at Hispanic/Latino and African-American students, the course has — by far — the lowest total percentage of students.

To put this data in context, the population of the United States is 62% white, 17% Hispanic or Latino, 12% African-American, and 6% Asian/Pacific Islander.

Just 11.8% of part-time Data Science enrollees are Hispanic/Latino or African-American. That's 5.7% below the overall average, and nearly half of the figure in the Front-End Web Development courses.

Education in Data Science

This data set also gives us insight into the highest level of education attained from part-time enrollees across GA courses.

On average, Data Science students come in with the highest degree attainment.

Across all courses, 85.4% of part-time GA students have a bachelor's degree or higher; in Data Science, that figure is 93.8%. This seems to largely be driven by the fact that there are far more master's and Ph.D. graduates in Data Science (37.7%) than the overall average (24.%). A surprisingly high 3.7% of students hold a Ph.D. — more than triple the average of 1.2%.

Data Science seems to draw from a smaller, more specialized pool, which could, in part, perpetuate diversity issues.

Data Science Is Still New

Female and minority students have made positive strides in coding and tech education at GA.

When coding and web development started getting popular two decades ago, the fields were almost entirely dominated by men — most of whom were white. Looking at our data here, though, it's clear things have changed for the better: Front-End Web Development courses are now 57% female and boast the highest percentage of students of color of any course.

At General Assembly, we're proud of the growing diversity of our global community, and we actively seek to create an environment where women, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and other underrepresented communities feel empowered to pursue tech and digital training that they may have previously felt was unwelcoming or inaccessible.

Since data science is still a relatively new field, it is possible things may just take some time to equalize. But we should not be complacent. To help accelerate the process, GA has implemented a number of social impact programs (focusing mainly on our full-time Immersive courses), and engages local and federal governments and well as corporate leaders to move the needle on access and diversity. These programs, which have served hundreds of students over the past two years, have created economic mobility for underserved and overlooked talent.

Some specific examples of that work include a partnership with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's Tech Talent Pipeline program, through which GA helped dozens of low-income New Yorkers gain data analytics skills through our part-time programs. We recently launched a similar program through a U.S. Department of Labor grant. The private sector is also starting to step up — BNY Mellon recently invested in General Assembly's Opportunity Fund to train women and people of color to become data scientists.

General Assembly also works with large organizations to increase diversity within their teams. For less than the cost of traditional recruiting agencies, we find high-potential candidates from underrepresented groups, train them in web development, data analytics, or data science, and strategically place them for maximum impact. To ensure that new talent thrives, we offer robust onboarding training that gives both talent and managers the skills and strategies they need for long-term success.

We know these are important early steps, and that we have much work to do to cultivate a more diverse and inclusive data sector.

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5 full-time work-from-home roles that pay seriously well

We—we being the internet in general, as well as PowerToFly specifically—often talk about remote work as this glorious thing: you can find professional fulfillment, friendly co-workers, and career growth potential from the comfort of your own home. All while collecting a check!

But where should you look if you want that check to be as big as possible?

Start with this guide to the best high-paying remote jobs. These career choices (and the example companies hiring for them) don't skimp out on paying remote workers well, and you'll still get all the work-from-home flexibility you're looking for. I've linked to specific job posts for each category below, but also look through the 300+ remote jobs on PowerToFly's always-updated remote job board for more.

As you apply and interview, keep these work-from-home interview questions in mind. If you find yourself with a salary offer that's good, but not quite as good as it could be, reference these salary negotiation tips for remote workers to advocate for what you deserve. And when you get the job with a great salary, make sure your home office is set up for success. And then send me a note to tell me how you're doing!

1. Senior Software Engineer

Business woman using laptop

Who It's Good For: Anyone who's a pro in programming languages (Java, Javascript, C++, Python, and SQL, to start, among others) and knows how to drive the development of products. If you like complex engineering challenges, have experience working with different systems and products, and have the discipline to program without a PM physically hovering over you (Slack hovering's allowed, though), this is for you.

Sound Like You? Check Out: Sr. Principal Software Engineer at Dell, Senior Front End Software Engineer at Plectica, Senior Software Engineer at CloudBees

Why You Can Do It Remotely: Like most heads-down-and-create work, developing software and programming are best done with minimal distractions. You'll collaborate with your team for check-ins and bug fixes, but you'll be able to focus on your project work from a home office.

Average Annual Salary: $131,875

2. User Experience Researcher Manager

Young adult woman working with laptop at mobile app

Who It's Good For: Proven researchers who know how to understand the behaviors and motivations of customers through feedback and observation, who have experience synthesizing insights into a brand story, and who have managed teams.

Sound Like You? Check Out: Senior Research Operations Program Manager at Zapier.

Why You Can Do It Remotely: As UX researcher Lindsey Redinger explains in her helpful Medium post, remote research allows companies to reach users all over the world, not just within driving distance to their headquarters, and can be cheaper for companies and easier for participants.

Average Annual Salary: $105,810

3. Senior Product Designer

Female graphic designer smiling at desk in office

Who It's Good For: Creatives with technical chops who like the challenges of evolving and improving the production of current products, leading designers, and collaborating with other parts of the business.

Sound Like You? Check Out: Senior Product Designer at SeatGeek.

Why You Can Do It Remotely: While design teams definitely need to share lots of feedback, there's technology out there to make that easy. The Help Scout design team has shared their favorite tools and tricks to collaborate remotely, which includes recording daily videos of new designs to explain features and ideas in a way a photo file just can't express. (They're also hiring! Check out open Help Scout jobs here).

Average Annual Salary: $107,555

4. Senior Security Analyst

Developing Concentrated programmer reading computer codes Development Website design and coding technologies.

Who It's Good For: Thoughtful, vigilant thinkers who enjoy identifying and fixing gaps in a company's security posture, including through ethnical hacking (hacking a company's system before outsiders can, and addressing the weak points found) and incident response (containing the negative effects of a system breach or attack).

Sound Like You? Check Out: Data Protection Security Analyst at Deloitte.

Why You Can Do It Remotely: Not all security analyst positions are remote-friendly; sometimes they require working with very sensitive data that can be compromised if taken off-site or accessed from a VPN. But with the right data processing policies—like using a privacy filter over your laptop, only using secured wifi, and encrypting your data, all suggested by WebARX security's all-remote team—remote work as a security analyst is definitely possible.

Average Annual Salary: $108,463

5. Technical Project Manager

A strong wifi connection makes for a strong relationship

Who It's Good For: Tech-friendly jack-of-all-trades with a sweet spot for spreadsheets and other organization tools.

Sound Like You? Check Out: Technical Project Manager at Avaaz.

Why You Can Do It Remotely: Project management can sometimes be like herding cats, but you don't need to be in the same room as your feline team members in order to direct them around. With collaborative software (and a highly organized home office, like PM pro Patrice Embry recommends), you can PM the most complicated of projects from wherever you're located.

Average Annual Salary: $95,129

Other Industries

Other high-paying remote-friendly jobs include certain roles in healthcare (like nurse practitioners and psychologists, who can check in with patients via video conferencing and phone calls), app developers for both iOS and Android products, actuaries and tax accountants, and data scientists.

And remember that even jobs that don't seem remote-friendly at first, could possibly be done from home or on the road. If you find a well-paying, exciting job that doesn't offer remote work immediately, it might be worth negotiating a more flexible schedule with a 1-2 day work-from-home option. Both you and the company can see what remote work actually looks like in action, and if it goes well, you can make a pitch to transition to remote work full time.

Other resources you may want to check out in your quest for meaningful, well-paid remote work:

6 Programs You Should Download Right Now if You Work Remotely

Productivity Tips for Remote Workers

Home Office Design Tips for Remote Workers

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Build Your Network at the Next PowerToFly Event

Today we celebrate our partnership with Braintree! Check out this video to see highlights from our recent networking event.

If you missed the event, fear not! Stay connected by following Braintree on PowerToFly and email us at Hi@PowerToFly.com for future events near you.

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