The STEM gender gap and how we can lead the way for the next generation

Authored by Emma Girvan and Sandra Raznjevic

In our continued partnership with St. Peter’s Collegiate Girls’ School, we were honoured to be invited to attend the inaugural Women in STEM Breakfast on Thursday 23 May, which was hosted by Year 10-12 students.

This fantastic event included over 30 female industry professionals who were invited as mentors.  They were only too happy to share their own personal journeys and experiences as successful women working in STEM related fields. We were all lucky enough to hear from 3 invited guest speakers;  Sarah Brown (State Director, Code Like A Girl), Dr Kristin Alford (Director, MOD) and Dr Bronwyn Hajek (Lecturer/Researcher, University of South Australia) which was incredibly inspiring for all of us to hear how they’ve been able to navigate their respective careers.

We heard accounts of how women are still so dramatically underrepresented across all STEM studies and careers and as mentors for these young, impressionable and highly motivated students, we all felt a sense of responsibility to share and encourage them on their paths to success.

Whilst enjoying some of the culinary delights prepared by some of the Food Technology students (which they were being assessed on!), the girls had the opportunity to practice their networking skills and gain as many insights as they could from the industry mentors around the table. It was fascinating to hear the diversity of each of the girls’ passions and interests and what their career aspirations were. Amongst the girls, we met a budding  Commonwealth Games Australian Archer (maybe Olympian one day if they change the rules), a software developer, a forensic scientist, a designer, and organ transplant surgeon and some professions which…to be honest we’d never heard of!  For us, it was a great opportunity to dispel some of the misconceptions of what a career in IT looks like and how some of their interests and skills could be applied in the least likely of ways.

Studies also indicate that role models can be used to both attract and retain women in STEM. Using women as role models has been found to be more effective in retaining women in STEM[2]. With research indicating fewer than one in five students enrolled in degrees in engineering, physics, mathematical sciences or information and communications technology (ICT) in Australia are women[1], and at a time when technology continues to transform the way we live, work and learn, the need to close the STEM gender gap is more critical than ever.

Women are lost at every stage of the professional ladder in STEM fields, due to a range of factors including stereotypes, discrimination, and workplace culture and structure[1], some of which manifest from early school years. [

Studies also indicate that role models can be used to both attract and retain women in STEM. Using women as role models has been found to be more effective in retaining women in STEM[2].

At Exposé, we can proudly boast that 40% of our staff are women; many of us with young daughters, including our own General Manager. We are very passionate about continuing our partnerships with the colleges and universities in Adelaide particularly, working with young women to provide mentorship and guidance to help steer them on a path which traditionally has seen girls gradually drop off the radar.  So much so, that we will be working with St. Peter’s Collegiate Girls’ School again this year to provide our special data analytics project which encourages young women to think beyond the “nerdy” coding and help desk stigma associated with the IT industry.

After listening to the panel of speakers and chatting to a number of young girls who were keen to pick our brains on ‘a day in the life of a girl working in STEM’, the message at the end of the morning was clear – find something you love doing, then find a way to do it every day, and if you’re lucky enough you might even get paid well for doing it.

For all of us, invited guests included, it was a good reminder to keep giving new things a go, even if it puts you outside of your comfort zone, because you never know where it could lead!  Moreover, it dawned on us, that for anyone who is raising young women, we also need to be mindful that we are also (potentially) raising future Mum’s. So in the back of our minds, there will most likely be a period of our daughter’s life, where she will need to take some time out to create another human being and also potentially manage and nurture this human into adulthood.  We need to support this in our industry to not only entice young females to step over into the (not so) dark side, but to show them that they are supported.  This is extremely relevant to Exposé currently as our General Manager raises her new child, whilst running the business.

[1] International Labour Organization. ABC of women workers’ right and gender equality. (International Labour Organization, Geneva, 2007)

[2] Drury, B. J., Siy, J. O. & Cheryan, S. When do female role models benefit women? The importance of differentiating recruitment from retention in STEM. Psychological Inquiry 22, 265 – 269, doi:10.1080/1047840X.2011.620935 (2011)

Exposé – the 2019 Microsoft Worldwide Partner of the Year, runner up in the category of Power BI

We are delighted to announce that Exposé has been named as the runner up for the 2019 Microsoft Global Partner of the year award in the category Power BI. We’re proud to add this global award to our two previous Microsoft Australian Partner Awards in 2016 and 2017. This achievement is no small feat given how young we are and is truly a testament to our talented and committed team; both in Adelaide and Melbourne.

The SA Water solution we submitted for this global award, followed our tried and tested best practice approach, ensuring a thorough understanding and delivery of business outcomes first, with the technology simply being the enabler. We constantly bend and push the envelope on technology, in this instance Power BI, to deliver the required outcomes, rather than make outcomes bend to technology.

“The modularity and scalability provided by the Power BI and the larger Azure platform allowed us to tailor something pretty unique to our customer and their challenging requirements. It allowed us to create a truly scalable, responsive and extendable IOT based analytical ecosystem that can be scaled out to thousands of devices, leveraging complex alarm rules controlled by users, visual remote monitoring and responsive actions, visual analysis, and now deep learning over the data.” Etienne Oosthuysen, National Manager, Technology and Solutions

“I am incredibly proud of our team for delivering a solution for SA Water which has not only over delivered on our customer’s requirements, but has now been recognised globally as a best of breed solution. Thank you to SA Water for trusting us with your data and allowing us to develop a forward thinking solution.” Kelly Drewett, General Manager

See the nominated SA Water solution case study here.

See a short video of the solution here.

Power BI Report Server and BI Platform Upgrade – our PIRSA case study

The Department for Primary Industries and Regions South Australia  (PIRSA) faced an increased demand for consumption of Power BI dashboards and reports in a modern and centralised platform. With the business not quite ready to move to the cloud, we architected and created a solution that could serve as a stepping stone that could satisfy their needs, provide mobile reports, retain the ability to access paginated and Excel reports, leverage newer capabilities introduced into SQL Server since 2012 and provide a roadmap to later cloud adoption.

Read our case study here.

Building a unified model for consistent and coherent team reporting – our City of Adelaide case study

We created a unified model for the City of Adelaide across fragmented data sources (including on premise, cloud, file based and SaaS) to deliver a consist and coherent reporting solution across different teams.

Manual, costly and inconsistent preparation and curation effort were eliminated through the automated solution, delivering a single source of interactive Customer Program performance reporting.

See our case study here.

Say that Again? Power BI Commentary extends to Reports

Power BI recently announced the extension of  its commentary capability to Power BI reports. Yes, you can now add comments to both report pages or specific visuals to improve your data discussions!

These conversations are automatically bookmarked, so the report context is retained exactly as the comment was written, complete with the original filters. Reporting by exception is embraced with those mentioned by @mentions receiving a push notification to their mobile device to alert them.

Whilst commentary is nothing new in BI tools – Power BI is a bit late to the game – its here now and we’ve subsequently put it through its paces to see how it stacks up!

Backstory

The following exposé samples show the analysis for a retail organisation. The data, which updates hourly, is sourced from 3 different on-premise systems and modelled into a user-friendly sales model with a specific focus on Products, Customers and Suppliers & Export. The Head of Sales noticed an unusual spike in sales (in $ terms) back in April and created a comment for his sales managers to see. His sales manager picked up the comment and conducted the visual analysis, finding the reason for the spike. By retaining the conversation, anyone with access to the sales analysis can visually play back what was said and see the context of the discussion visually.

This saves staff time –  they don’t need to rediscover the reason for what may well be a very common question.

In the sections below, we step though these events, culminating in our conclusions on this new functionality in Power BI.

Let’s have a look

The first set of images shows the 4 relevant visuals the Head of Sales would have initially looked at, either on his laptop or on his mobile phone. They analyse sales through the lenses of Product, Customer Country, Export (Supplier Country) and Sales (over time) respectively.

The Head of Sales picks up the unusual spike in April in the 4th visual, Product Sales. And he posts his first comment.

This comment is then picked up by one of the Sales Managers, who conducts some interactive analysis and subsequently responds to the Head of Sales. The Head of Sales is notified, clicks on the comment to see the full visual context – see how selecting the comment plays back the visual as it would have looked appeared when the comment was made, and spotlights the specific played back visual clearly showing the 4 products.

The Head of Sales now has a further comment, asking for clarification as to where these 4 specific products are sold.

This specific Sales Manager (note I simply use one of our guest accounts to represent him) is notified of the comment and does further interactive analysis, and responds.

The Head of Sales is notified of the new comment and clicks on the new comment to see the full visual context – selecting the comment again plays back the visual to what it would have looked like when the comment was made, and spotlights the specific played back visual clearly showing the 2 countries.

This now gives the Head of Sales enough context to understand what lead to the spike. He/ his delegate now jump into Power BI and create a new visual from the user friendly sales model that will continue to track and trend these 4 specific ‘focus’ products within the Germany and US ‘high volume’ markets. This shows them that they are becoming popular and that they should invest in some additional marketing around those 4 products.

How this works

Using commentary requires no update or reinstall. Simply navigate to your report in Power BI Service and create comments. This can be done on the visuals themselves after analysis has been done to retain the context.

On on the report page in totality.

In my sales example here, I used a combination of the report page and specific contextual visual commentary in my discussion. The comments page will show all relevant comments and selecting any one of them will play the report and the context back to the time of the report.

Conclusion

The new commentary capabilities are still object based, and not intimately linked to the data as it was, for example in Business Objects – where commentary is made and written back to the solution based on the actual intersection of data—for example, a Sales Value of Product X for 1st of January 2019, in Vancouver in Canada, by Mary Jackson. The difference, however, could be quite subtle as Power BI could allow for the comment on a visual that shows the Sales Value has been filtered to Product X for 1st of January 2019, in Vancouver in Canada, by Mary Jackson.

One of the main downsides of this object based approach is that the commentary data itself remains inaccessible if you, for example, wanted to use it as raw contextual time based data itself. Disclaimer: I say this data is inaccessible, as I am unaware of where it would be stored or accessed. Happy to be advised of the contrary

The ability to play the report and visuals back to what it looked like when the comment was made is, however, a very nice feature—the reader can as it were, “step back in time” and see what happened when the comment was made. This seems to be the case even as more data is appended to the model (in this case) on an hourly basis.

There is no workflow attached to the commentary, which is quite common in financial reporting where commentary and narrative undergo review and approval.

This feature is not available to public facing reports using the “Embed to Web” functionality. But if you’re interested in looking at the sample reports I used for this user story, they can be viewed and interacted with here.

Establishing a corporate report style and data model framework – our Local Government case study

Our Local Government case study shows how the establishment of a corporate report style and data model framework greatly assisted business report designers build their operational reports in a more streamlined fashion with greater consistency, and provide the IT team a foundation to expand on.

Read the case study here: exposé case study – Local Government – Data Model and PBI Templates

Bringing Australian Wine to the World – our Wine Australia case study

See how we used modern methodology, cloud analytical technologies and thought leadership to architect and create this public facing interactive export analytical solution that empowers Australian wine exporters to make informed, data-driven decisions.

See our case study here.

Have a look at the solution in the link below. Use any of the “Get Started” questions to start your journey. Market Explorer Tool

See our short video here.