Strong Women in Business: Data Science and Jillian Donlon

The women of Bryant University continue to impress us at Her Campus Bryant with their intelligence and ambition. As a female-centric club, we love to see women taking the plunge to immerse themselves in male-dominated fields in the business world.

The next girl HC Bryant wanted to highlight in our Strong Women in Business series is Jillian Donlon, a senior Data Science major with a minor in Business Administration.

Her Campus: How did you first get involved in data science?

Jillian Donlon: Bryant’s new Data Science major was announced during my Sophomore year. Because I had excelled in my introduction to computer science course, a professor recommended I declare DS as my major. All the research and news at the time showed DS as an exciting and fulfilling career in high demand, so I was immediately interested. Although I knew my statistical and computer skills were rough around the edges, I took a chance and declared DS as my major. The next semester I was enrolled in Python programming, an advanced analytics and a database management course. It was that semester I began to see a future for myself in this field. 


HC: What do you hope to do with your degree after graduation?

JD: Through the DS curriculum I have gathered a comprehensive set of skills from big data storage, wrangling, modeling, and visualization to project management and programming. After graduation, I will be working in a client facing role where I will use these skills daily. They will enable me to use data to creatively solve problems and find answers to some of the most complex questions a business faces.


HC: Have you faced any challenges as a woman in the data science field? How have you overcome them?

JD: Of course! Despite progress made in gender equality, women are still underrepresented in the data science field which comes from the low rates of women studying STEM in undergrad. I have personally seen this in my two internships and in the classroom, where I am often the only female in a room. Although my female peers and I have equal skills to our male counterparts, we face challenges. These include inequality in networking opportunities, a lack of support from coworkers, an increased likelihood of sexual harassment and simply feeling like you don’t fit in. To overcome these challenges, I have had to work extra hard to make my voice heard, to be respected and to ensure I am included.


HC: What opportunities has Bryant given you to support you as a woman in data science?

JD: Bryant has exceeded all my expectations in providing me support as a woman in data science. As a university, Bryant offers frequent Women in Tech meet & greets, panel discussions and guest speakers. Bryant also employs smart female professors who are especially driven to see their female students succeed. This has helped connect me with impactful and motivational DS mentors and resources. These connections are what secured my two DS-related internships and post-grad full-time job.


HC: Why do you think more women should get in data science? What advice would you give them?

JD: Women should get involved because the technology field is exploding! There is a need for women in all sorts of data-related roles across all industries. Did you know there are jobs just for data visualization? And data ethics? These are among the millions of open computer specialist roles in the US. Women certainly have the ability to fill this need so long as we take the first step in our education to get there. I advise all females reading this interview, regardless of age or prior education, to take an online or in-person class related to DS. Find a female mentor and get the conversation started! It is not wasted time.


HC: Tell us a fun fact about yourself!

JD: My favorite season is summer. My siblings and I get to spend a lot of time together then and enjoy the outdoors. I especially like to wake up early and drive my boat to a little island off the Cape, float for a while until I catch a fish or two. If the fish are big enough, I’ll clean and cook them for dinner!


We love how Jillian encourages other young women to consider looking into Data Science classes, either within or outside of your college. She’s right, this field is exploding – and they are looking for analytical women to fill these highly sought-after positions. Jillian does a great job of taking advantage of all of Bryant’s resources for women in technology, especially by attending events and guest speakers focused on data science. This gives Jillian, and so many other girls the opportunity to network with women in the field, learn from their experiences and even find a mentor.

Her Campus Bryant wishes Jillian luck in her future endeavors as a woman in data science!