After 15 years in marketing analytics, I’ve observed similar characteristics in most female analysts. These observations have led to the hypothesis that a woman’s strong performance is rooted in the feminine experience. Here’s why:
Women who choose math professions are the boldest of us.
As girls, we’re not really encouraged to pursue math. My co-founder, Kate, recalls a time in school while walking with a male classmate, he was approached by their math professor who encouraged only him to pursue a career in math. This is a student that she often helped with his homework. Growing up in this prejudiced environment, it takes a lot of moxie for a woman to self-select into a data career.
It’s that personal strength that got them into that desk in the first place.
Professionally, we have more to prove.
Every time I walk into an analysis presentation, my data story is so buttoned-up that Houdini could not poke holes in it. My process is this. I look at my slides and consider what questions I’ll get. Then, I go answer those questions and put that in the deck. Then, I think about environmental factors that might have influenced my outcome. What about the economy? What are the competitors doing? What ABOUT the price of tea in China? Sometimes it does matter…
Women get challenged more in presentations. I’ve felt this empirically, and similar studies have proven it. Men get asked questions about their potential. Women get asked questions about their risk.
Women are better listeners.
Hey, now there are statistics about this.
Why does it matter? If you’re asking yourself that question, you should stop reading this and go listen to the first season of “Where Should We Begin?”. Then, you can come back here and learn that analytics is 50% math and 50% relationships.
An analyst’s audience is a group of people who don’t know how to do what an analyst does. The analyst might as well be a preacher. If there is no trust between the analyst and the audience, no action will be taken. Promise it will be a total waste of time.
It doesn’t matter how brilliant your model is. If you don’t listen to your stakeholders you can’t win their trust. If you can’t win their trust, you’ll never have a relationship.
(Remind me to tell you about the time I did ground-breaking conversion attribution work that was presented at eMetrics, got accolades from Jim Sterne, and helped analysts on that project get new jobs. Just after it, I was fired. Holla if you want that story.)
Women live an omniscient lifestyle
If you want to imagine what a woman’s mind is like, imagine a browser with 4,305 tabs open.
There’s just a lot to make room for. ALWAYS. Take the kids to ballet, workout, annual performance reports, raising revenue, posting to social media, make love to my partner… (when my husband reads this, he’ll notice that was last on the list)
I think this lifestyle opens up an omniscient view of our data analyses. Since we’re always in “consider everything” mode, our analyses try to take everything into account. There is an analyst on my team who NEVER presents performance data without comparing that to competitor performance; who always considers what is going on in the minds of the customer, and brings data on these as much as she is able to. She’s just wired like that.
I’m not trying to hate on my male counterparts out there. I’m just taking a moment to love on my female data professionals. I’m terribly alarmed at the current SHE-cession statistics. My hope is that of the 6K jobs currently out there with the word “Analyst” in the title. At least, 50% of them will go to a woman.