Today, February 25 is Girl Day – a day and movement that encourages girls and women to consider the value, creative liberty and amazing opportunities available in the fields of engineering, technology and data science.

As someone born and raised in South India, I grew up in a very conservative community in which girls were married off at very young age, and education, specifically in the sciences, was not a priority for most. I was fortunate enough to have parents that felt strongly about furthering my education, and after I attended an engineering college I developed a deep appreciation for the multiple applications of data – and the opportunities I could provide for myself and others.

Know your strengths

Engineering is driven by facts – by logical and analytical thinking – and for this reason, the data that we gather and analyze is critically important. Data diffuses emotion and drives measurable progress and purpose, which can translate to support for your vision.

But just as important as the curation and analysis of data, are the decisions enabled and actions taken. Whether you want to pursue a career in technology, or in fashion, or if you want to bring social change to third-world countries – creativity in tandem with the applications of science, technology, engineering and math is critical to the success of any vision.

This need for creativity, for unique ideas and innovative solutions should be seen as a call to action for women and girls to view a career in data science as the massive opportunity that it is. There is a desperate need for diversity across the industry, as diverse workforces breed different thinking and offer perspectives that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

We need to encourage girls to recognize and leverage their strengths in this space in order to foster our future leaders in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields in general, and in data science in particular.

The opportunities

Not only is data science driving the insights that enable decisions for the biggest and most influential companies in the world, regardless of the field – it’s important to also look at the opportunity within the industry from a logical perspective as well.

The amount of data that exists today is ten times more than that which existed over the span of the past 30 years. Data production is growing phenomenally and is trending to continue to increase.

Social media, mobile phones and IoT devices, analytics and cloud technology – it’s all producing data. This data must be monetized by businesses and, as production mounts the need for people to help shape actionable insights will grow exponentially.

Currently, interest and access at universities has historically been one step behind the industry – which has led to a talent gap that has created a high demand for qualified individuals who understand the technology. But the onus is on the technology industry to make data science an appealing career choice for women.

Speaking as CIO at Qlik, we’re dedicated to cultivating a diverse workplace with a strong corporate culture that nurtures talent to forge leaders in data analytics. And there is an industry demand for qualified female leadership.

The power and impact of data science is immense, and as women continue to develop these skill sets and leverage their strengths in this space – the data-driven possibilities are endless.

(About the author: Meerah Rajavel is chief information officer at Qlik, a leading provider of data analytics tools).

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