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Increasing Diverse Representation in Data Science

Nikisha Alcindor, President and Founder of the STEM Educational Institute (SEI), joins us to discuss how leaders can increase representation in data science.
mar 2023

Photo of Nikisha Alcindor
Guest
Nikisha Alcindor

Nikiska Alcindor is the President and Founder of the STEM Educational Institute, a nonprofit corporation that equips underrepresented high school students with the technological skills needed to build generational wealth and be effective in the workforce. Nikisha is a strategic management leader with expertise in organizational change, investing, and fundraising. She is a  recipient of the 2021 Dean Huss Teaching Award, a board member of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, and has taught a master class at Columbia Business School as well as several guest lectures at Columbia University.


Photo of Adel Nehme
Host
Adel Nehme

Adel is a Data Science educator, speaker, and Evangelist at DataCamp where he has released various courses and live training on data analysis, machine learning, and data engineering. He is passionate about spreading data skills and data literacy throughout organizations and the intersection of technology and society. He has an MSc in Data Science and Business Analytics. In his free time, you can find him hanging out with his cat Louis.

Key quotes

I think what happens when a lot of people think about STEM or data science is they picture a room with a bunch of servers and typing all day. That simply isn't the truth. For example, when you look at major retailers, they have a lot of data analysts that work with their marketing. If you're on social media and you see all these ads, it's intentional, there's someone behind that's actually programming it to be specific to you. And then we also know that STEM fields will continue to grow. In 2021, the median salary for people in a STEM career was 2.5 times more than those who weren't. Right now, there are about 10.2 million people working in STEM, and then this number is expected to reach about 11.3 million in 2030. At the end of the day, we need to at least be aware of STEM and coding so that we can maximize our earnings and career potential.

One of the biggest problems causing learning disengagement that I hear from students is the lack of being seen. So if you are creating programs and thinking about students as cogs in the wheel and you don't really know your population, you’re likely going to miss the mark. And if you also don't contextualize their lifestyles and priorities, the program will not make any sense to them. And I think you have to get the workplace involved. So, for example, one of the benefits we give to our donors, like the New York Yankees, is the opportunity to mentor and get to know our students, which helps relieve many of their personal fears and stressors.

Key takeaways

1

When considering any educational programming, you need to know your population well, prioritize their mental health, and give them space to think, explore, and be themselves.

2

Studies have shown that when a company lacks a STEM background, the company lacks innovation, but if there aren’t also different racial groups present, that innovation gap will double.

3

The key to de-mystifying STEM and data science is to contextualize it to someone’s everyday life and demonstrate different ways they can be utilized in different career paths.

Transcript

Adel Nehme: 
Hello everyone. This is Adel, Data Science Educator and Evangelist at DataCamp. This week is International Women's Day, and what we've seen consistently across the board is the low participation of women in underrepresented communities in the data space. So what's driving the slow participation? How can we alleviate it?

There's probably no better person to answer this question than Nikisha. 

Nikisha is the President and Founder of the STEM Educational Institute, a non-profit corporation that equips underrepresented high school students with the technological skills needed to build generational wealth. And be effective in the workforce.

Nikisha is a strategic management leader with expertise in organizational change investing and fundraising. She's a recipient of the 2021 Dean Huss Teaching Award, a board member of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, and has taught a master's class at Columbia Business School, as well as several guest lectures at Columbia.

Throughout the episode, we discussed the STEM Educational Institute's three-pillar approach to education, the rising importance of STEM-based careers, why financial literacy is crucial to a student's success. S.E.I's partnership with DataCamp, contextualizing Educational and Upskilling programs to your organization's specific populations, and much, much more.
Now on today's episode, Nikisha, it's great to have you on the show.

Nikisha Alcindor: 
Great to be here. I'm so excited to join you guys today.

Adel Nehme: 
I really a... See more

ppreciate it. I'm excited to speak to you about your work leading the STEM Educational Institute, the importance of bringing in more women and underrepresented groups in data, how to empower these different communities to succeed in data. But before, maybe tell us a bit about yourself and your journey.

Nikisha Alcindor: 
Absolutely. So I'm a New Yorker. I grew up in a small town in Rosedale, Queens, which is on the border of Long Island in Queens, and I went to public schools all my life up until High school. So I was like Tootie, if you remember the facts of life. I got an opportunity to go to boarding school, so I went to Cho's Mary Hall for high school.

After I left Cho, I went to down south and went to Emory and got my bachelor's in chemistry. Then came back to New York and worked in the pharmaceutical industry for some time. Then I really serendipitously found myself in finance and private equity at Apex Partners here in New York, and then went to Columbia Business School, where I got my MBA in finance as a Leon Cooperman scholar. Graduated from Columbia, then went down to Wall Street, worked at Goldman Sachs as an asset manager. And then literally was thinking, 'Hey, I feel like I need to do something else' and transitioned into academia where I worked at Columbia University and created a master's in wealth management as well as two diversity programs, a program for girls in stem, and then another HBCU fellowship. And so now I'm doing STEM Education Institute as well.

Adel Nehme: 
That's great. So Maybe walk us through the STEM Educational Institute, its mission and really how it relates to data skills.

Nikisha Alcindor: 
Yeah, so the STEM Education Institute, we also call, I call it S.E.I as well, for sure. We launched in 2021 in the middle of Covid and we're a non-profit corporation that takes a holistic approach to careers in STEM. And with that we have a three-pillar approach, which is STEM, financial literacy and mental health. 

Our overall mission is to serve as a diverse talent pipeline for organizations, while at the same time helping our students build generational wealth. The main program that we have is our Summer Scholars program, where we work with underrepresented high school students, grades nine through 12, and we give them the practical technological skills they need to enter today's workforce. So during the summer, students learn Python. They learn the basics of budgeting and investing, and they're giving mental health resources. 

During the program, they also receive a stipend and a college scholarship that goes into a 529 plan. And then after we continue learning, the students continue to get programming skills that puts them on a path to becoming a certified data analyst through DataCamp. So we're so excited to have that opportunity for our students.

Adel Nehme: 
That's really great and we'll deep dive into, the Data Camp partnership in a bit more detail. But what I really wanna centre today's conversation around is how the STEM Educational Institute approaches its mission. One of the key things I see you speak about is the current gaps within STEM education and how they're not inclusive enough to serve different communities. I'd love to understand what you think is the current state of STEM education gaps. How they hurt certain communities from accessing good quality STEM education.

Nikisha Alcindor: 
So one of the things, first off, I think, is the jargon. STEM science, technology, engineering, and math literally terrifies most people, right? Because the idea is that you have to be extremely smart to do any of those things. And so our goal is to break down STEM in a very practical way, and so.
First, when you just look at the communities that we serve, most of our students are under the poverty level, and they also don't really have resources. And even when you think about it, most people say, well, most kids have laptops. Most kids have iPads, et cetera. One thing you don't think about is, for example, Python.

If you've ever tried to download Python on your own computer, you literally need another degree to do that, right? So, it's really difficult, right? There's so much documentation, and to me it's 1, 2, 3. But for a student, when you tell them to go download Python, it's not an easy thing to do.
And so that's why we love DataCamp because it gives us an interface where we already have the Python shell built into it. Then we also look at the fact that we wanna make sure that we're giving students practical skills that are relatable to real world issues and problems. And so when you think about what research has shown us - we know that if you don't have a STEM background in any company, you're gonna lack innovation. 

But then there's another layer that goes onto that where, If you, if there aren't different racial groups in a corporation that is going to double the gap in your innovation as a firm.
And what we've seen over the years is a steady decline in undergraduate STEM enrollment. And so S.E.I, we see the opportunity to provide students with the STEM training they need and change the global.

Adel Nehme: 
We're gonna discuss these gaps in a bit more detail, but maybe first starting off as well, I'd love to understand from your perspective, why is it so important to access these data skills today, especially given how the economy is evolving. I'd love if you can give this colour from your perspective as well, how you've seen it play out.

Nikisha Alcindor: 
Yeah. So if you are ever in corporate finance or you're an investor, cash is king, So plain and simple. In 2021, the median salary for people in a STEM career was two and a half times more than those who weren't in a STEM career. And I think what happens is a lot of people think when they think stem or they think data science, they feel like they're in a room with a bunch of servers and typing all day. 

And that simply isn't the truth. I mean, for example, when you look at retailers like Nordstrom's, Macy's, They have a lot of data analysts because of marketing. If anyone knows, if you're on your social media and you are, you see all these ads, it's intentional, right? And there's someone behind that that's actually programming it to be specific to you, and then we also know that. STEM feels they continue to grow. Right now there's about 10.2 million people working in stem, And then this number is expected to reach about 11.3 million in 20 30. When you look at the different. The different bills that are in Congress that are asking and inspiring non-profits and educational institutes to give students access to stem.

It's just a sign, you know? It's more than a sign, right, that we're seeing. So at the end of the day, the moral of the story is you wanna know how, at least be aware of stem and coding so that you could avoid being poor, right? Or not advancing financially as much as you'd like to.

Adel Nehme: 
Yeah, I completely agree. If you think about it as well, just. Like those codified roles as data scientist, data analyst, you also have that hybridization of skillsets you mentioned, for example, a Nordstrom of, marketing analysts for example, needs to know some STEM skills, some coding skills, some data skills to be able to compete in today's economy.

So I think this is an incredibly important mission to be able to provide these data skills, even if someone is not going to be able to go into a data science career path, to have these skills to be able to succeed in the modern jobs of-

Nikisha Alcindor: 
and what's so interesting about it as well as a manager, if you don't understand what your analysts are doing, Then there's a gap in your business, right? So we see the financial markets, we see investment banks changing their model and hiring more data analysts. Why? Because you're gonna be more competitive. And so if you as a manager decide that I'm gonna leave myself out of this and I'm just gonna leave it to my computer engineers. You're putting yourself, you're opening yourself up to a whole bunch of risks, and that's why we see so many problems in cybersecurity now because there's a fundamental disconnect in what is data science and what it isn't.

Adel Nehme: 
So let's focus on the STEM Educational Institute and how it really approaches, filling out these gaps more deeply. You mentioned the three pillars of STEM coding skills. For example, financial skills, as well as like mental health resources.
Maybe walk us through these three pillars in a bit more detail. What are the different programs the STEM Education Institute has to support these three pillars?

Nikisha Alcindor: 
So first of all, we wanna make sure on the STEM pillar, it is demystified and students understand why they're doing something. There are a lot of STEM programs out there that will tell a student, Hey, come and learn to build a robot. And a student will come and they're like, that's great, but what does that have to do with anything? And how is this gonna make me money? And so we use the case study method to create an actual problem that a firm will straight will face. 

And so we focus on data collection, data visualization, data manipulation and data analysis. Those are four areas that you are gonna need in any area that you go. And then when you look at financial literacy, when you think, again we work with a lot of partners and we've seen, I've seen a lot of programs and they'll always say, well, our program is free.
Why aren't the kids coming? And it's like, well, the kids you're targeting, if they have a choice between earning income and going to a free STEM program, which is disconnected from everything they're doing, they're gonna go and take that job regardless of what it entails and then we also keep telling kids to go to college, but we're not telling them how to save and how to pay it, pay for it.

Right now, the average tuition is about $80,000 a year, and we just expect students just to figure it out. And so our approach is we teach students the basic skills about budgeting and then we connect it to a firm. We ask the question, fundamental question of, do you think this firm has a budget? Well, shouldn't you have a budget?
And then parallel it to, to make it relevant for a corporation that they're eventually gonna go into. And then why is that so important? we then transition into teaching the students about coding. A large part of our program, each student has to sign up for a 529 college savings plan that gives us the opportunity to not only give them scholarships, but also teach their parents about investing.

And so we do investing 101, and then as the program continues, we get a little bit more sophisticated into algorithms in ai and then lastly with mental, it doesn't fail. Like over all the years that I have been a professor and taught classes to graduate students, undergraduate students, high school students, there's always been an issue that comes up in either an essay or office hours where a student will say, 
'Hey, I don't feel like living anymore. I don't feel, I don't feel like myself.' 
And instead of going on the defense, we take a look at being offensive, right? We know that the kids are coming in, you're asking someone to come in and learn a difficult topic. When you're a data scientist, you talk about all these things that you have the jargon and it seems so easy, but the reality is coding is difficult.

So if you're asking someone to come and be their best self every day, but you're not giving them the space to be vulnerable and honest before they dive into whatever curriculum you have, you're gonna lose that student. And so we, the way we look at mental health is we give students a baseline intake survey to make sure that we're catching any, red flags initially. And then we do a lot of physical activities that connected to mental health, like yoga, meditation, journaling. And then we also have a really nice network of counseling and therapists. So if a student needs to go to a therapist, they're not calling a 1-800 number and waiting to be seen. We continue to give students ongoing support throughout their journey. Our overarching goal is to follow our students all the way through college and make sure they get into college, make sure they graduate, and so that will sum up our three pillars.

Adel Nehme: 
I love that approach. It's incredibly holistic and I think there's a lot to unpack here when it comes to, you know, effectiveness of development programs and educational programs as well to really empower underrepresented communities. Looking at it from your perspective, I can see that there's a lot of attention paid to the experience of the student, right?
There's a lot of attention paid to, mental health resources, enabling them to succeed in, actual life tasks such as investing, making sure that they're financially literate, have the ability to succeed financially, and there's a really big emphasis in making sure that is connected to real life tasks and issues.

What do you think are lessons to be gained from policymakers here? For example, from your experience, who are designing nationwide or massive development programs and what are lessons that you can share here for anyone that is thinking about development programs for underrepresented communities?

Nikisha Alcindor: 
I think you have to be practical, And what that means is you have to operationally pretend like you're the student who you're dispensing the information to. I'll give you a perfect example. The first year we started, we did the normal thing that most corporations do. We work with local community organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club, Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club, Newark Boys and Girls Club.And we'll send them the email, we'll send them flyers and we just expect the kids to come and then to apply. And our first year we have 50 students apply to the program and that was the strategy we took the second year. I literally, Walked the streets of Harlem and gave out flyers and went to high schools and we had over a thousand applications.

We had to shut down our application. And that was just me thinking practically, wait. If I'm a student that I'm targeting, I have a cell phone that may or may not be working. How am I getting this information? I have an email address that may or may not work, and so that kind of thought process of take making things extremely simple.
This is what people should be thinking about. And then also think about the possibility that their parents aren't involved, right? So not a lot of students, the students that we work with, they don't have the luxury where their mother is attending or their dad is attending teachers conferences. They know what it's about.

So just be really practical and really think of the student that you're targeting is probably their own. So how can you then dispense that information and also make the, whatever the curriculum is, make it practical and so that the student can see where the end point is?

Adel Nehme: 
Okay. That's really great. And you mentioned here at the end, right, you're targeting folks who are maybe parenting themselves, who don't have the necessary resources to keep being engaged within the program. How do you design a program that keeps people engaged in these situations? You mentioned, for example, demystifying STEM skills, right?

How do you create a program from A to Z? That keeps people engaged within the program, keeps them motivated, and really communicates and drives that point home of what you will be able to achieve once you acquire these skills and go through this program.

Nikisha Alcindor: 
I think it has to be personalized. One of the number one things I hear from students is the lack of being seen. So if you are creating programs and thinking about it as a cog in the wheel and you don't know certain things about your population or who you're at, even servicing, it's really going to be a miss.

Right? And if you also. Don't think about their livelihood and their priorities, it's not gonna make any sense. And I think you have to get the corporation involved. So, for example, one of the benefits we give to our donors, like the New York Yankees, we give them the opportunity to mentor the students, to get to know the students.

Cause I think what happens, it might be, I don't know why it happens, but I feel like when people, let's say a white person interacts with a black student, it's like this weird awkward thing that they're like, oh, you're a black student, or you know, and it's like actually they're human and they like stickers, they're children. And I think a lot just breaking down your personal fears helps build those programs. Now, I'm the first to say that I'm a very business oriented type of person, and so we, I have other staff that works really closely with the students because they know how to interact with teenagers and they know what's going on and they know what's popular with the students.

Adel Nehme: 
That's really great. I really love that. Another thing that we talked about, and that we mentioned at the beginning is how DataCamp is part of the program. I'd love to learn more about your experience. Especially creating this kind of blended program where you incorporate, both instructor-led sessions, discuss with the students, but also use online learning as a level setter.
I'd love to understand your experience here.

Nikisha Alcindor: 
So DataCamp has been the best thing that ever happened to us in terms of just the curriculum, disseminating the curriculum and making it easier for students. Right? So, we mentioned the case-based study method that we use, and so with that we use workspace, in DataCamp, which allows us to customize the current case studies that are there and case studies that corporations build or give, or wanna, or create with us.

So for example, For the New York Yankees we did, 'How does weather impact a hit ball'. Yankees were able to give us data and then we were able to create something that really fell in line with the core curriculum that already existed with Data Camp. And so we were able to quickly have the students move between the Python shell and the workspace, and then work together and then have that space.

And then let's say for example, you are an organization and you use SQL, right? You can use the workspace and connect SQL so a student can actually experience what it's like and what SQL looks like. And I love, I really do love the workspace because it really mirrors what the Python interface looks like and it does the same in the DataCamp Python shell as well.

Adel Nehme:
Kind of connecting back to what you mentioned is that, not everyone will have the resources to download Python on their computer. It's an entire kind of skillset, and being able to break down that barrier is so important.

Another key dimension that we mentioned we talked about here of the STEM Educational Institute is financial literacy. Maybe walk us through a bit in more detail what you cover part of the program here, and maybe walk us through as well, what are the main like impact that you've seen from the financial literacy programs taught in the STEM Educational Institute.

Nikisha Alcindor: 
Yeah, so the number one thing is when we talk to students, again, we go back, we talk to them about college. Some of them are already, all their needs are being provided for by their parents or by someone else that they live with. And so we get a chance to do a lot of activities where they have to build a budget and they have to use technology to figure out what their budget is and prioritize their needs, and their wants, and it's interesting when you break down all the things that they're going to need and then they're like, oh, wow, someone else used to provide that for me. And then, we really connect that into investing a huge part of the population that we serve. They're not invested in the stock market and just introducing them to the concept of investing and savings and simple example. 

For example, most of our students don't know that.
One of the things we ask is when you put your money in the bank, does it stay in there? And the answer is no, the bank is, lending that money out and making a huge profit. Do you think that's fair? And so giving the students a different perspective into what happens with their capital.
And then we also do the stock market game where the students pretend that they're investing in a particular stock and then they look at the stock. Being able to have basic perceptions on how well a stock is doing and when you should buy it. And so we look at, for example, we'll take a stock, let's just save Microsoft, for example, and then we will, we'll look at it, the performance over one day.

And then we'll look at it, the performance over five years. And then you can gauge, well, is it a good time to buy low, sell high? And so those are some of the things that we do with our students in regards to financial literacy. And again, the 529 plan is a huge part of that. So students can continue to learn.

Adel Nehme: 
I think that's an incredible part of, being able to raise communities out of poverty, right? Even if you were able to make a career transition, you don't have the financial literacy involved in being able to build wealth. That is such an important aspect as well, of unlocking that generational wealth that you mentioned earlier.

You also, mentioned the importance of mental health wellness when making career transitions, right? One thing that I've seen you speak about consistently here is the importance of mental fitness, especially for folks going through career transitions, especially for underrepresented groups.

I think this is extremely foundational. I'm fairly certain everyone listening in today has experienced or knows someone that has experienced mental health struggles in their lives. Walk us through, in your own words, why this is such an important aspect of the Senate STEM Educational program.

Nikisha Alcindor: 
Yeah. So. we are in a world of social media where there are a lot of deep fakes happening spiritually, physically, and emotionally. You open up Instagram, there's stories, there are women who have layers of thick makeup and wigs on that just aren't true. You have people taking pictures with green screens that look like they're on a beach in Tahiti.
And what happens? Studies show that the more of that you take in, the more depressed that you become, because what you're doing is you're participating in a voyeuristic sort of activity that makes you want to be like someone. And it is by design. Right. These things are planned. When you think about the algorithms that are in Facebook, that are in Instagram and all over social media, sometimes they're helpful cuz sometimes I'm looking for something, they're like, 'Hey, I think you might like this or, so the best are, Hey, you should apply to this grant.'

But most of the time that's something that students aren't aware of, and just giving them that awareness is so important and. We've seen it just recently, a young lady was videotaped being beat up and she took her own life. It was posted on social media. And so when you think about all of this kind of things happening, it's so important to be self-aware of what's going on with you and also be realistic and understand that what you're seeing on TV most of the time is not.

Adel Nehme: 
I completely agree and this really adds a lot of mental stress and fatigue to a lot of folks. And, given that. Of being able to be mentally fit to make that career transition is really important. What do you think is the role of the educator here in helping students bring their best selves?
Right? What resources have you found to be useful here when helping students 

Nikisha Alcindor: 
So one of the things that is just giving them the space to think, and so we do a lot of activities that include journaling, and one of the big parts of journaling that we do is we have students write down the name of someone they can call if they feel like they don't wanna go on with life. And that sounds so simple, but it's so important for students to, in your mind, think about, 'Hey, I'm having a bad day.'

Well, who can you call? 

We also have breakout sessions where students can journal. They can also, color, they can do meditation, and by doing this, we're giving students the ability to express themselves in a safe environment. I don't have all the answers. I think only Jesus does have all the answers, and I think a lot of times, Educators push that on the students. When students come in and they don't know the answer to something, it's kind of like, well, you're not smart. And so you find students who are silently suffering because they don't either understand the curriculum. And so we stop. So if we are not on the same page and someone doesn't understand something, what we do for those students who are moving through the curriculum and understand it, we say, well, you don't move on until your neighbor moves.Right. 

So we have students then start teaching and helping students that don't understand or aren't getting it as quickly, and I think that's really critical. And not to be judgmental about where they are, if it's bad or good, it just is. A lot of people think the reason why you're being taught something is because you don't know it. You shouldn't come and expect to know something. And so we are constantly reinforcing.

Adel Nehme: 
Yeah, in a lot of ways, that also helps foster community between the students, which in itself is well creates, a support system and enables and helps mental health outcomes here.

Nikisha Alcindor: 
Definitely.

Adel Nehme: 
So, related to this, and this is something that I think is extremely important to, the world of upskilling in general, it's psychological safety. You know, Not to sound formulaic, but we live in very stressful times. Just in the past three, four years, we've experienced a pandemic. Global conflicts, new technologies like ai, ushering in a revolution in the economy, a recession, tech lays a lot of these different types of stressful events are happening.

A lot of organizations are trying to approach, for example, upskilling their workforce on STEM skills and data skills. All of this has put into perspective for me the importance of psychological safety, especially as we tell individuals they need to improve their skillset, they need to learn how to code.

How do you view the importance of psychological safety here? How can leaders, foster it within their organizations?

Nikisha Alcindor: 
I think leaders need to respect their employees and view them as a person and not a cog in the wheel. And definitely change the wording instead of saying, well, you need to upskill Literally, when you hear that, automatically someone is gonna think, 
'Well, I'm not good enough. I'm not where I should be.'
Instead, just say, we are moving in a new direction and we want you to be the best you can be. And so paying attention to these little things, there's so many negative things out there that give us. The idea that we're not good enough, and so be very careful of the words that you use and then actually demystifying what that means.

One of the biggest problems I see with leaders, and I do a lot of leadership training for organizations is that. They just tell people to do something, but they never tell them why. I have kids and I will tell you telling them to do something because I said so last until about maybe one and a half, right?

And so courses like data science for everyone is a great course just to get people aware of what data science is and then also leverage your computer scientist, because a computer scientist in your firm or some, a computer engineer, they can also learn from the management team and be able to say, 'Hey, I've done a lot of work with both sides'.

And when you bring the management team and the computer engineering team, they're like, oh, that's why we're building this code. Oh, well, that's why we're, and then the management team can be like, oh, that's why this code isn't working. And so you have to bridge that gap and make them feel as if they can share together versus making it seem that you're not good enough and you need to be better.

Adel Nehme: 
And what have you seen are effective communication strategies here? What is a good why to explain to folks, as they need to acquire new skills as you go in this new direction.

Nikisha Alcindor: 
I think people are always worried and trying to figure out how not to get fired, right? And so in whatever way you say it is that this is gonna allow you to maintain your position here and continue to thrive here. And put you in a place to have more monetary success, right?

And so, conveying to that employee, this is why we're doing this. Another key thing is how does this impact our bottom line? So for example if we're giving you, a manager can say this to an employee, we're teaching you this so that you understand Cybersecurity and how it could put our firm at risk. If you open that email that we've trained you not to open, it can then access client accounts and then someone can withdraw all the money out of the client's account. What happens with that? We then lose profit as a firm and then potentially have to let you go.
Right? So just completing the story I've seen to be more effective instead of having so many gaps in why something is happening.

Adel Nehme: 
Okay, that's great. Now, Nikisha, as we close up our conversation, I'd be remissed not to ask, this week is International Women's Day. It's never been more important to have diverse perspectives and voices and data. Looking at the latest reports, it's clear that we are at stagnation when it comes to the inclusion of women and BIPOC communities in data science and tech. 

I'd love to learn from you what needs to change to improve the level of inclusion and how can data leaders and organizations empower underrepresented communities and data.

Nikisha Alcindor: 
Well, the first thing obviously is partner with the STEM Education Institute, where the work we're doing. We will help you fill those data analytical roles. We have a huge network of scholars that are really skilled and then just get rid of the jargon, right, that you're constantly imposing on individuals.

When you think about women and especially mothers, and I'll speak for myself as a mom, we have another job, so we start working at 5:00 AM and most of the times just to get the kids where they need to be, and so, Just realize that we have other things going on, and make it relevant as how this can help us and become more efficient as moms.
And if you're not a mom, how this can help you just be the best person that you can be. And then the number one thing is from what I'm seeing, is that you have to be intentional about The groups that you're partnering with and how you are actually approaching it. When it comes to women, like I mentioned, we have other things going on, so you have to think about other things.

If you're gonna have a conference, have you thought about giving, people with families, food vouchers for their families, so their loved ones. If I have to be away for a data science conference for a week, can you give me GrubHub or something so that my family is not stressed out in preparing meals.

And then also just giving them more information. I feel like a lot of underrepresented groups, they may or may not understand something and have the perspective. So when you think about, when you think about Bitcoin and all of these cryptocurrencies, it like becomes like a fad, but it's like someone needs to break down actually what it is and make it not so fearful.
The most recent one is chatGPT, you know, everyone's afraid of it and it's because you don't really understand it. And I think with women, we are shown to take less risk than our peers, and so just making things very clear and not so mystical.

Adel Nehme: 
That's really great. I really appreciate that. Now Nikisha, as we close on our episode, any final call to action before we wrap up today's episode?

Nikisha Alcindor: 
Well, I would say. There's so much work to do, but we're doing it. I will be remissed not to say, please donate to the STEM Education Institute. We are on a journey that has been such a blessing and has been so magical and. Just have to definitely shout out Data Camp. Data Camp has changed the way we're looking at our programming and we are just at the beginning.

And so if you wanna be a data scientist, I would say, take a course if you wanna support what we're doing, donate to us. And, it's a great time to be in data because it's gonna touch all, it is touching all aspects of.

Adel Nehme: 
That's really great. I couldn't agree more. Thank you so much for coming on DataFramed.

Nikisha Alcindor: 
Thank you. 

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