Two Data + Women leaders on navigating a career in data and technology

Two Tableau Community members reflect on their experiences being a woman in data and share three main pillars that helped them navigate a male-dominated industry.

What is it like to be a woman in data? When we connected with some members of the Tableau Community around this question, we found that even though they all had different career paths, they all shared similar experiences in the workplace. In honor of Women’s History Month, two DataFam members and Data+Women leaders, Annabelle Rincon and Heidi Kalbe share what they've learned along their journey of being women in data and technology. 

Annabelle leads the Tableau Centre of Enablement at a Swiss bank. Annabelle says, "Tableau and the Community gave me the opportunity to find my first job in Switzerland. For that, I will always be grateful, which is why I try to give back by leading two initiatives: Data+Women Zurich and the Tableau Analytics User Group. I have also had the pleasure of being named as a Tableau Social Media Ambassador in 2020 and 2021, and a 2022 Tableau Visionary.”

Heidi works as a Senior Consultant at Woodmark Consulting and is a Tableau Social Ambassador, and is the co-founder and co-lead of Data+Women Germany. “Becoming a consultant at a young age was challenging for my self-confidence—surprisingly, not all middle-aged male managers take kindly to a woman in her early twenties telling them what to do.” Heidi shares that, like Annabelle, the Tableau Community helped her grow into her own. Heidi comments, “by repeatedly sharing my expertise at Tableau User Group meetups around the world, I grew more comfortable in public speaking, stepping into the spotlight and my truer self.” 

As Annabelle and Heidi reflect on their experience, they both shared some advice and resources that have helped them navigate a male-dominated industry.  

Know your worth

Annabelle: “I had plenty of meetings where people automatically assumed that my younger male colleague was the team lead. Or, if they needed to ask a technical question, they reached out to him instead of me. I've learned that if I want to receive recognition, I should start by giving it to myself. I no longer need to seek external approval; now I know that being myself is enough.”

Trust in your expertise

One of the notable points in Heidi's career in data was when she evaluated a possible Tableau implementation at her company during her time in college; she was to be the first employee in a newly established Tableau team. A few months before graduation, the company was sold, and the promised role vanished. When she declined the alternative position offered, her then-boss told her that she would never make it on the free market because Tableau was such a niche product, and nobody would be interested in her skills. Firstly, out of personal ambition and secondly to prove him wrong, Heidi decided to become the best she could be in the visual analytics sector, specifically in Tableau. 

Heidi: “That experience motivated me to turn my passion into my profession, ultimately leading to a Senior Consultant role years sooner than expected. To help other women find their footing in the data industry, I also founded Data+Women Germany and enjoy giving back to my community as a Tableau Ambassador!”

Find your community

In June 2019, Annabelle attended the Berlin Conference and discovered the Data+Women initiative. At the time, she remembered wishing this initiative existed in Zurich. Together with her co-leader, Olivia Sliz, they launched their first in-person event in October 2019. 

Annabelle: “When COVID hit, I remember feeling lost. But our community pushed us to continue, and since then, we have hosted virtual events and enjoyed every one of them. Thanks to our community, we can continue to be connected and bring awareness to our talented women peers.”

Heidi: “Having others supporting you, who are facing similar challenges is important. Share your challenges in a safe environment, get advice, learn and grow—and pay it forward by becoming a mentor to other women. If you don't have such women in your immediate area, you can find a mentor on CoffeeCodeBreak, a mentoring and networking platform for women in tech. Or, if you ever need a sounding board, a pep talk, or simply someone to vent to, reach out to me. I'll always be there for you.”

Additional resources to celebrate diversity and support women

Annabelle: “We need to embrace all diversity, and only when we are aware of our biases can we act on them. I recently did a very interesting exercise—I analyzed the Tableau blogs and Tableau Public profiles I was following. To my astonishment, I was following almost only men. I changed this by adding all the Tableau Ambassadors on Tableau Public, no matter where they are from in the world, and what language they visualize in.”

Heidi: "My favorite resource for data visualization is the Do No Harm Guide. It explains through many tangible examples how to represent data through a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive lens. Another fantastic example of breaking stereotypes in data visualization is Lisa Charlotte Muth's article on alternative colors for gender data."

To view upcoming Data+Women and other Data+Diversity community led events head here.