Data+Women and Tableau's #data15: my thoughts

I got back from the awesome Tableau #data15 conference a week and a bit ago. The conference was great - I attended some really interesting sessions, met up with loads of friends and colleagues and got to go to some great parties. What I always love most about the conferences though (this is my 3rd US conference) are the meet-ups and networking.

This year there was a brilliant meet-up for Data+Women. I thought it was awesome that a meet-up for this group had been organised. It was held the Monday before the conference really got started. When I got in the room at the MGM Grand I was really excited to see that it was packed! I think there must have been a few hundred people in there. Some were even standing at the back. What I liked even more was that it wasn't just women in the room either, and well done to the men that attended - you're all really brave and the effort is really appreciated I'm sure.

Matt Francis took this great picture of the Meet-up

I want to write this post to explain my views on women in data (or data+women) and why it is so important to me. I should also caveat this post that it is completely "in my opinion" (any Good Wife fans might know what I mean here). I'm sure every single person who attended the meet-ups at data15 or that attend other women in data events all take away their own things from it.

Why is Women in Data important to me?

As a consultant in the data & analytics industry in the UK I have to say it is (unfortunately) quite uncommon for me to work with other women. In fact for a few years I've been the only female working for The Information Lab. Now The Data School's first cohort had 3 great female students and the new cohort has 5 females out of 8 total recruits! Often when I go to work with clients I'm also the only female on the team, or one of only a handful. So when I can walk in to a room which is literally filled with other women in the same industry as me it's a really awesome feeling.

It's great to be able to share experiences with others, to network, meet new people and make new friends. I was really lucky to finally meet Emily Kunde and Jen Vaughan in person during the meet-up to. We've spoken a fair bit via Twitter, and they were kind enough to invite me to speak at the Tableau Fringe Festival they organised too. This was the first time I got to say hello in person; a great benefit of attending the session!

Don't get me wrong though, I can share my experiences and thoughts with men in the industry, but sometimes there's questions that you have that you wonder if other women are thinking or have experienced too. Sometimes I have a million thoughts running around my head such as: "am I spending enough time with family", "am I spending too much time on personal stuff and not on my work?", "I wonder how other people juggle all this stuff we have to do!?", "do I have time to do my washing this week?". Sound familiar? Yes I'm sure men ask all these questions too, but I think they're usually coming from a different perspective.

The most interesting parts of the meet-up for me were hearing from the panel and listening to their stories: how they got to where they are; what their days are like; how they juggle the balance between work and home. I listened to a great interview with Kelly Wright (Tableau EVP Sales) on the Tableau Wannabe Podcast recently too. In the interview Kelly had some great advice about getting the balance between home and work demands just right. Kelly's approach was to involve her family as much as possible in her work: to explain to her kids why she was going away, to even make it fun by getting the kids to go out with her when they weren't in school and getting them in the office. I thought that was great! Okay it's not always possible to get your family in to the office, but it's definitely possible to talk more at home and get people involved a bit more. I think that's definitely something I can improve on.

Elissa Fink (Tableau's Chief Marketing Officer) is also a great inspiration and did some great interviews for the Tableau Wannabe Podcast and at the London Tableau User Group back in July, talking about Women in Data with Emily. Again it was great to hear about Elissa's journey in to her role and how Tableau make sure their workforce is diverse.

For me Data+Women is also really important to share ideas and knowledge on getting more women involved in data and in the analytics industry in general. I want to do more to help younger girls who are either in school or deciding on careers to say it's possible to enter in to an industry that traditionally employs more men. Plus I think everyone should have the opportunity to learn analytical skills - in the UK we definitely could do more for our young people.

Why should men get involved in Data+Women too?

It's pointless to restrict these meet-ups to just women. Lets face it, women leaders in the tech industry are few and far between. A Guardian article earlier this year stated only 11% of Silicon Valley executives are women. So if we want any change to happen men are going to have to understand the issues too.

What are your thoughts on Data+Women? You can also join the Tableau Data+Women Group on the Tableau Community. Check it out for events in your local area too.



  1. Nice one Emma. It's great the way there are so many women in this field. My background is in IT infrastructure, a field that is almost all male, so it is a refreshing change to see all the great contributions made by #womenindata.

    I've joined the meetup group and hope to come along and support.



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