Stand close because I am about to whisper a secret. I don't have a degree in data science. There are many in our field that will shoo me away with a wave of the hand--as not worthy--let the eye rolling commence. I mean I have my own data analytics company and data blog.
But let me tell you something else. When I attended Rutgers University we all learned how to code. That is all we knew how to do on a computer. There was nothing else to do. This pre-dates even Netscape my friends. And if that isn't bad enough it may have been C programming language, Fortran, and COBOL. A bit of imperative and compiler experience thrown in for good measure.
Here is where I should be able to say how much I learned and enjoyed the classes but that would be a lie. Between the coding, computer labs, calculus II and Chaucer I was in over my head. Only with distance and a sprinkling of nature's amnesia am I able to look at those days fondly.
My point though is how I learned computer science. Sort of like the sea slug exhibiting hyperbolic geometry in a world anticipating Euclidean -- "Mathematics as something more like music or dancing--not so much in the writing down as in the playing out".
What would you do (and how would you do it) if you had a complex question to solve? For example, an electronic health record system tucked away in a relational database with only a data dictionary to show the way? For me, I learned SQL and Python. Boom. Problem solved. When you don't know the ideology you aren't afraid to blur a few lines--I am talking to you Bayesian and Frequentist regression models.
It was last year's Tableau conference where I started paying attention to data + women. I haven't missed a conference in the last 5 years--but hadn't noticed the groundswell of support for women in data. There were parts of the dialogue where I thought I might learn a thing or two and I also felt called to share and participate. Many of us traveled a different path but somehow are now in a position to lead conversations and illuminate the path for others. I am proud of my nontraditional origin story and if anything, I want other women (and men) to know there is no "right" way, no matter what you might hear.
This video cracks me up. Quite literally I can be viewed guffawing and yes that is my arm reaching for the red wine lol. But you also can observe a community of women. Some months I might have the answers, many more, I have the questions.
Create a group. Be prepared to listen. The last thing I need some weeks is an hour drive to the triangle (Raleigh or Durham) but let's be honest--I gain so much helping data scientistas build their networks and excel in their fields and industries. Oh and as far as the Chaucer? I was lucky to attend an estate sale at Maya Angelou's estate. I found Chaucer Modern Essays in Criticism. The circle is complete...