How Advanced Analytics Technology Addresses the Gender Gap

     

Feeling and logic. Throughout corporate history, these primary behaviors have been respectively assigned to women and men, although we know these labels aren’t always accurate. Take Steve Jobs. Most would probably remember him as a feeling kind of person, whereas, Meg Whitman may be viewed as a person of logic.

But this is 2018! Why is a discussion on the differences between men and women, and specifically, the lack of women in STEM and industries like supply chain, oil and gas, and technology, relevant today?

According to one supply chain survey, 84% of millennials, who now make up the most significant percentage of the workforce, care about gender parity.1  With an annual spending power of $44 billion, millennials have corporations listening to them about employee diversity, as well as the products the company creates.

The STEM Gap

The integration of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines started gaining attention in the early 2000s. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, the U.S. had almost three times more STEM jobs than non-STEM jobs. This statistic revealed a reality: there were not enough skilled workers.

On a global scale, the gaps in gender and diversity for students in STEM was also noted. This initiated programs to encourage more groups into STEM careers. But the results for women have been mixed.2

  • Women and STEM Worldwide: In less developed countries, STEM programs for women are better attended than in developed countries.
  • Women and STEM Dropouts: Women pursuing graduate degrees in STEM number about 40%, however, as they approach leadership levels in their respective careers, participation drops to about 15%.
  • Women and STEM Income: Women with STEM jobs earned 35% more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs and 40% more than men with non-STEM jobs.

If compensation, ability, and opportunity are incentives for women to pursue STEM careers, then why doesn’t gender parity exist? We took a closer look at three industry segments.

Women in Supply Chain

Overall, 57% of women in the U.S. participate in the labor force.1 In the  supply chain sector, however, the percentage of women is 37% — much lower than the highest occupation with the largest percentage of women (62% in healthcare) — but 60% more than the percentage of women in oil & as.

The number of women entering the supply chain field is increasing; for example, the number of MBA candidates at North Carolina State University is up to 40% from 35% in years past. However, other reports lament more progress is needed, both for women in leadership roles and pay parity. In 2017, women in the supply-chain sector earned 81 cents for every dollar that men did in 2017, which aligns with the overall labor market with women making 81.8 cents for every dollar than men during the same period.3

As for promoting women in supply chain, Gartner shows almost 40% of women in the field believe that identifying female leadership candidates and supporting their conversion using a combination of recruitment, development, mentoring, sponsorship, rewards, recognition and succession planning activities is the way to go.

Women in Technology

Another field where more women are needed in is technology. Depending on the classification, women make up roughly one-fourth of this sector. To foster more diversity, global nonprofit organizations like Women Who Code and Women Who Tech offer resources like networking, online learning, funding, grants, and job boards.

Despite efforts to bolster more participation, a 2016 update shows 56% of women in tech drop out. This percentage is twice the number of men who drop out of field. Reasons range from starting up their own business to almost half leaving the industry altogether.4

Women in Oil & Gas

Lagging in gender diversity is the oil and gas industry, which is followed only by construction when it comes to the representation of working women. In a joint report with the World Petroleum Council, the Boston Consulting Group uncovered a key finding similar to other sectors: the dropout rates as women reach mid- to senior-level positions increases sharply.

However, it’s the industry’s upcoming ‘crew change’ that has companies eyeing gender balance. Between the previous layoff of 350,000 workers, and the fact that 75% of this industry’s most experienced employees are nearing retirement, oil and gas wants to engage more women in the field!5

Gender Differences in the Workforce

In aggregating studies on women and work, a pattern emerges on why fewer women enter and more women drop out of STEM-type careers. Some reasons involve the gender differences in brain design, while others explore cultural factors. Here are a few that make a case for participation beyond outward gender appearance:

Brain Circuitry

Brain imaging has accelerated in recent decades, and because of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), scientists can view and confirm the differences between men and women’s brains. And aside from the amount of white and gray matter, they are different!

Vanessa Van Edwards, the author of Captivate, breaks down six differences between men and women in the workplace, backed by scientific studies, to show how gender differences show up at work. One example she provides is on problem-solving; women tend to think in broader terms and expand the contributing variables, whereas men predominantly define and clarify the problem, eliminating and isolating the issues.

Interests

Several studies have shown that many women have prefer other interests to STEM. Other studies, like one by a Stanford University professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, indicates that hardwired differences exist innately due to survival and propagation. These innate preferences were shown in an experiment with rhesus monkeys, which share93% of human DNA. Researchers found that the male monkeys favored the “wheeled” boyish toys while the females wanted to play more with the girly “plush” toys.6

Feelings of Belonging

Finally, the feeling of belonging is often cited in studies as a factor that keeps women from staying in STEM. Through her extensive work in understanding women and STEM, psychology researcher Nilanjana Dasgupta says, “poor performance is not what drives them (women) out. Feeling like they fit in, or not, is the critical ingredient that determines retention.”7

Why Advanced Analytics Closes the Gap in Gender Differences

When it comes to gender differences, no research explains the whole. Instead, attributes are designated by the majority with an external wrapper: either man or woman. Like Steve Jobs, our passionate, feeling person, and Meg Whitman, our logic-in-charge, examples, not all men are primarily logical, nor all women mostly feeling. It’s why advanced analytics — especially with visual displays — plays to the strengths of all genders.

No matter how an employee’s brain is wired, there is a value in collaborating with different perspectives, especially when insights are supported by big data.

Advanced analytics aligns with the logic-oriented brain, as well as the feeling-types who prefer visuals to communicate big picture, counterintuitive ideas. A few examples of how these can be applied are shown in use cases below.

Opportunities in Supply Chain

In addition to integrated business planning, advanced analytics helps out with supply planning and demand planning. It can assist with product portfolio analysis, tying the product portfolio to customers, supply chain, and business outcomes. Advanced analytics can take all of these and find the best combination of decisions.

Opportunities in Technology

Using business modeling, advanced analytics connects demand with financials with the supply picture to produce new insights, showing the link between strategic metrics and value.

Opportunities in Oil & Gas

From trading optimization to workforce management, advanced analytics assists roles in maximizing profits and optimizing margins. It works all streams of business, with the ability to pivot to best courses of actions when external events create the need for immediate change.

 

Optimizing Gender Differences

Like the field of neuroscience, which has hyper-accelerated in discoveries of the brain in the past several decades, advanced analytics breaks through gender barriers in corporate environments by making problem-solving interesting.

As Sheryl Sandberg noted in her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”

The same can be said about advanced analytics; both feeling and logic, regardless of gender-wrap, are welcome and needed.

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12018 Women in Supply Chain Survey,” Gartner, April 30, 2018

2Women In Science, Technology, Engineering, And Mathematics (STEM),” Catalyst, January 3, 2018

3Women Climbing Supply-Chain Ranks Find a Growing Salary Gap,” Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2018

4Women in IT: The Facts Infographic,” National Center for Women in Information Technology, 2016 Update

5Untapped Reserves: Promoting Gender Balance in Oil and Gas,” Report, World Petroleum Council and The Boston Consulting Group, July 12, 2017

6"Two minds: The cognitive differences between men and women," Stanford Medicine, Spring 2017

7“'Belonging' can help keep talented female students in STEM classes,” National Science Foundation, August 26, 2016 

Other resources contributing to this article:

Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force,” Pew Research Center, April 11, 2018

Data and Statistics, Women in the Labor Force,” U.S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau

 

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