National Audit Office – Ira Ashia, Data Science Intern

We recently interviewed Ira Ashia, Data Science Intern at National Audit Office on her thoughts and experience on  Diversity in Tech.

1. What does your job role involve?

This role involves in helping the office produce insights into the data we receive from government departments. It also gives the opportunity to take on a diverse range of data science challenges by rotating in different teams such as web-scraping, and RShiny app development.


2. What made you choose a career in technology?

I have always been fascinated by the power of data and the insights that can be gained by using the right technological tools. Technology has changed dramatically over the course of years and it has become a part of our daily life. Therefore, Technology is the ultimate portable career, the range of job roles and industries that fall under the technology umbrella is huge. I thoroughly enjoy being in tech, because of the very changing world of technology. I love the idea of being able to learn so much and still not know enough.


3. Did you study an IT or technology related subject at A-Level or University?

I did my bachelor’s in economics and that is when I was introduced to the power of data analysis that encouraged me to pursue a master’s in business Analytics. This master gave me the ability to gain knowledge in coding, machine learning but also understand the different business strategies required to succeed.


4. Did you get any work experience in IT or technology before this role?

This internship at National Audit Office is my first technical role. However, I feel like I have already gained a vast amount of knowledge and experience in this role in a very short time. This is thanks to the intensive training where I have been given plenty of space to learn various data science languages like R and PySpark.


5. Do you think there is a lack of diversity in the IT and tech sector?

I think the gender gap is narrowing in the IT sector but at a very slow rate, so yes definitely, there is still a long way to go! I think females who end up pursuing computer science at university level, they find themselves being outnumbered by males, probably with one of the highest gender disparities in course subjects.


6. What do you think the main issue is with the lack of diversity?

A possible reason for why more girls don’t pursue maths and science related degrees is due to the ‘pinkification’ of girls in early age. Toys, clothes and job possibilities are still marketed towards either gender, despite recent developments in breaking this historic trend. The shortfall of women in IT can actually be traced all the way back to grade school. I don’t remember being encouraged enough to partake in math and science related activities during my early studies. I believe that this stereotype has become a norm in many societies to the point where many girls often don’t believe to have the potentials to pursue a STEM related subject


7. Do you feel there are any barriers getting into technology?

As I mentioned earlier, I believe not having enough female role models in this sector can intimidate many women to pursue a career in tech. I also believe that there are many misconceptions when it comes to tech roles. For instance, there is this image of tech as being dry, code-heavy and void of creativity, secondly, the myth that tech is complex and mastering it requires a lot of technical knowledge.