In 2016, Capella University and global analytics leader SAS teamed up to offer the first-ever Capella Women in Analytics Scholarships to encourage women to join the field of big data and analytics sciences.
The awards provide full scholarships to two women enrolled in Capella’s Bachelor of Science in Information Technology with a minor in Data Analytics program and two women in the Master of Science in Analytics program. SAS also provides mentoring and networking opportunities for the scholarship winners, including attendance at the Analytics Experience 2018 in San Diego and a visit to the SAS corporate headquarters in Cary, NC, where they network with other analytics professionals, including the SAS Women’s Initiatives Network (WIN). WIN is a group of more than 600 female SAS employees who foster female leadership and professional excellence to encourage women to pursue STEM-related careers.
Capella is proud to announce the Women in Analytics Scholarship winners for 2018.
Bachelor of Science in Information Technology Winners
Gillette is new to data analytics, although she has worked in data in one form or another throughout her career. As she considered moving into the IT field, she researched different areas and realized that data analytics was of considerable interest to her. “What interests me most about analytics is just that you can use the data to solve problems,” she says. “I’m really an inquisitive person who likes to find anomalies.”
Currently she works for the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, maintaining databases and troubleshooting. But she’s open to new possibilities as she works through her degree program. “I’m not sure what field I’ll end up in, because data analytics goes into so many different areas,” Gillette explains. “But I’m interested in making sure that the company where I end up has challenging work. I’d like to have a solid position where I can continue to grow and be challenged personally and professionally.”
Wiyninger worked as a report analyst for a large company for several years, but her role largely involved ordering standardized reports. When she moved to a smaller company, she found herself in the position of working with non-standardized reports, and she realized she loved that challenge as well as the opportunity to learn new things every day. With the scholarship, she can more aggressively pursue completing her degree, which will open up opportunities at her workplace that are not available to her now.
She appreciates that in her area, male and female employees are treated equally. But for women who are concerned about entering what has traditionally been a male-dominated field, she has some advice:
“I would encourage women pursing STEM-related careers to not underestimate themselves. For almost my whole life, I considered myself ‘bad at math,’ but I realized that technology isn’t JUST math. There’s also language, organization, and even some creativity behind analytics. I read somewhere that anyone can learn anything if they want, and while some might struggle more than others, there are so many ways to learn, practice skills, and develop. If you think you’re bad at something, find some resources and practice. Also, I would encourage women to think about all the things they analyze on a day-to-day basis. Many women are managing households, working full-time, etc., all of which uses brain power we don’t even think about.”
Master of Science in Information Technology Winners
Grimsley’s M.S. in Analytics will be her second master’s degree. Her first was in Counseling, and she works as a social services program manager. Her career requires her to create reports involving large amounts of data, but she finds she doesn’t have the background and training to fully explore and analyze them. This scholarship will help her fill out the rest of the picture. “Data tells a story,” she says, “and while my on-the-job experience continues to show me a few views of information, I would like to assist the most vulnerable in our population by telling the whole story.”
Grimsley’s daily work has her analyzing local, regional, and statewide data in order to develop statewide training designed to reduce or reverse negative trends. Without previous analytics training, she’s found this to be a challenge, especially as a woman.
“This challenge is particularly difficult as it is not a matter of intelligence and skillset, but rather a cultural perception that underrates the performance of women,” she says. “I’m committed to doing my part – influencing, educating, and supporting women as they follow their hearts. I didn’t start out in STEM and that didn’t stop me, so don’t let it stop you. You are more than your gender, so put on your boxing gloves and stay the course. You’ll be glad you did.”
Angela is deeply rooted in the analytics field, having worked with data for Cigna Healthcare for nearly five years. She’s always been curious about data and finds that the visualization side of data comes naturally to her – but the technical aspect (programming, data mining, using analytics tools) does not. She knows that strengthening those skills is critically important to her long-term career in analytics.
As a woman in a STEM-related career, Manfredo often finds that she’s the only woman on a team or in a meeting. But she doesn’t let that stop her, knowing she can bring something unique to the work. “Being able to tell stories with data is my ultimate passion. I want to use this skill to help infuse data analytics into all aspects of business decision-making” she says. “Bad data is a major barrier. We have data that is missing, unavailable, not understood, not appropriately managed or overseen. That’s lost to us until we make the time to give it the care it needs. The lack of a data management plan and data model are some of the biggest barriers I faced. Let the business community learn that data is their friend, not something to be afraid of.”
Learn more about Capella University’s online data analytics degrees.