10 of the most influential women in data

As data science becomes one of the most promising fields across a number of industries, companies are beginning to realize the value of educated and diverse data interpreters and scientists. The current landscape of data science is also changing, as it is no longer limited to just tech companies and Silicon Valley. Data impacts healthcare, business, education, and virtually every aspect of life where information and analysis can be applied. In recent years, data science has been called “one of the sexiest jobs of the 21st century,” but the diversity of data scientists has historically been lacking.

There is no doubt that, even in 2016, there is a vast gender disparity in the work force. This gap is seen in starker contrast in areas like technology, data, and computer science, where only about ¼ of all positions are held by females. This disproportionate representation of women is especially striking in the data science field, where data and analysis are catered to the interpreter. Without diversity in interpretation, data cannot tell us everything it needs to. Today, though, we’re seeing a rising trend in female representation in a number of data science fields, and quite a few women are leading the charge.

These women below (in no particular order) are influencers and leaders in the field of data science, and can teach us a lot about how to acquire, use, and implement Big Data in a variety of applications.


Diane Greene

Senior Vice President, Google

Greene is a Senior Vice President at Google. She was also the founder and CEO of VMWare for a decade, and has been a pioneer in the computer science industry since the mid-90s. Greene is an innovator in the data center world, and is a frontrunner in the advancement of cloud and data technology.


Janet George

Chief Data Officer, SanDisk

Working with big names like Apple, eBay, Yahoo, and now SanDisk since 1993, George has been an influencer since the start. She specializes in building “Big Data” systems from the ground up, and has developed teams that carry out the data needs for massive companies. She has spoken about women in tech at a number of Anita Borg Institute events, and continues to discuss the need for diversity in her field. Follow her on LinkedIn here.


Munmun de Choudhury

Assistant Professor, School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Tech

De Choudhury is one of the voices that best represents the need for women in Big Data. She has worked since 2011 on connecting the dots between social lives and individuality/personal wellbeing. Working with neXus Group, and now an assistant professor at Georgia Tech, she is intent on sharing her work. De Choudhury is a professional data scientist who analyzes the world around her, rather than just focusing on applications in business or tech. She is frequently spotlighted as one of the most influential women in technology and computation, and her interviews are very eye-opening. Follow her on her website here.


Hilary Mason

Founder, Fast Forward Labs

Heavily involved in the data science community, Mason worked for Bitly as Chief Data Scientist from 2009 to 2013. She has since founded and co-founded a number of companies, and is now a Data Scientist in Residence at Accel Partners. She frequently speaks about women in Big Data, the power of data, and the importance of making the right connections. See what she shares on Twitter @hmason.


Monica Rogati

Independent Data Science Advisor

Rogati is an incredibly successful data science advisor who has worked as VP of Data for LinkedIn and Jawbone. She frequently speaks at events like Women in Data Science about the importance of data in understanding the world around us, and connects businesses to their data so they can make a greater impact. Follow her on Twitter @mrogati.


Jana Eggers

CEO, Nara Logics

Operating under different titles, like Director or VP of Marketing and Business Development, Eggers has consistently helped grow companies like Lycos, Intuit, and many more. She now runs an artificial intelligence company that aims to connect businesses, products, and customers based on data and the solutions they provide. Her many interviews include topics like work/life balance as a woman. Read all about her on her blog here.


Elena Grewal

Interim Leader of Data Science, Airbnb

As the data science leader for Airbnb, Grewal has developed systems that analyze user habits, rental availability, and areas that are flooded with bookings (and those that are not). Her insights help with marketing, customer service, and general growth potential for this huge international company. She speaks a lot about diversity in the workforce and is active on Twitter @elanatej.


Amy O’Connor

Big Data Evangelist, Cloudera

O’Connor has worked with big names like Sun Microsystems, Nokia, and now Cloudera since 2000. In that time, she has delivered data that impacts marketing, sales, and company management. She often speaks out about the influence that Big Data and technology will have on business and sales in the future, as well as the power of introducing women into the field. Follow her on Twitter @ImAmyO.


Michelle Miller

Senior Director of Data Strategy, Cerner Corporation

Recently recognized as one of the most powerful women in healthcare IT, Miller has worked with Cerner since her career began in 1998. Since then, she has developed software and analytics that highlight the needs of the healthcare patient population. She also provides Cerner insights into letting the numbers lead to action. Learn more about her here.


Fatima Paruk

Chief Medical Officer, Allscripts Analytics

Also ranked one of 2016’s most powerful women in healthcare IT, Paruk has influenced changes on a large scale based on what Big Data shows her and her company, Allscripts. She also helps her team find ways to improve data systems to provide better care for patients. Follow what she shares on Allscript’s blog.


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