Edwina Dunn, one of the most highly respected data professionals in the business, has urged companies to ensure women play an even bigger part in a collaborative tech-driven future, arguing that firms will need all the talent they can bring to the fore in order to stimulate the post-Covid economic recovery.
Writing exclusively for Decision Marketing, Dunn bemoans the fact that there is still a major disconnect between girls and STEM-related career paths in schools, citing research that shows nearly three-quarters (74%) of girls express an interest in STEM topics and careers, but only 0.4% end up choosing computer science for a degree.
Dunn writes: “Young girls are rarely encouraged to pursue maths and science, meaning they are missing out on fantastic careers such as forensic scientist, web or app developer, project planning engineer or even data/software scientist.
“I want to encourage more girls to take STEM subjects. Pupils are often directed away from the more ‘challenging’ subjects, such as maths and science, due to a relentless focus on achieving high grades. This ultimately deprives them access to many high-paid and fast-growing careers.”
Dunn has been at the forefront of data science for nearly three decades, having co-founded DunnHumby in 1989 with husband Clive Humby.
Initially the firm built bespoke marketing intelligence for the retail sector and in 1995 signed the deal of a lifetime to launch the Tesco Clubcard programme.
The scheme has been widely credited as one of the key driving forces behind the transformation of the retailer from the ‘pile it high, sell it cheap’ philosophy of founder Jack Cohen to the global force it is today.
The supermarket took a majority stake in DunnHumby in 2001, and the pair sold their final 10% stake at the end of 2010.
In 2013, Dunn and Humby joined the board of analytics firm Starcount as executive directors and took a “significant minority equity stake” in the business.
Dunn founded The Female Lead in the same year as a not-for-profit organisation that highlights the breadth of female achievement in order to offer inspiration for future generations.
She explains: “The Female Lead is now looking up the career path to ‘women at work’, ‘diversity’ and ‘motherhood’. We need to truly understand why women’s careers tail off mid-career when men’s do not and to help them find a way through.
“Never has it been more important to improve gender and pay equality. Post-Covid, we will need all the talent we can bring to the fore in order to stimulate economic growth. Let’s make sure that women play an even bigger part in a collaborative tech-driven future.”
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