In the ever-evolving landscape of data governance, the presence and contributions of women are becoming increasingly prominent. Their unique perspectives and experiences bring a fresh and needed dimension to the field. In this article, we present the insights from a conversation with Bozhena Baranovskaya, a seasoned data governance specialist with Murdio, as she shares her journey, challenges, and perspectives in the realm of data governance.
Bozhena’s journey in data governance is a testament to the power of determination and curiosity. While her education and background were far from the realm of IT, Bozhena’s journey began with an insatiable curiosity and a relentless pursuit of knowledge. She explains, “My education has nothing to do with IT. It was basically a lot of interest, a lot of learning, a lot of talking to people, and a lot of trying.”
Armed with a wealth of curiosity, Bozhena entered the IT landscape through customer support roles. Her journey started with providing assistance to end-users, which allowed her to intimately understand their struggles. Through tech support roles, she found herself navigating the complexities of IT issues, bridging the gap between technology and user needs. “Starting this way was great because it gave me the opportunity to look at a lot of different projects, different problems users have, and an overview of different users working in the data governance area. Once I became a developer, I was able to do more complex tasks.”
This pathway ultimately led her to the domain of data governance.
Bozhena’s journey was not without its challenges. As transformation from tech support to a developer and, ultimately, to a data architect happened, she encountered hurdles that demanded resilience and adaptability. These challenges, however, fortified her with crucial skills for data governance, where adaptability and problem-solving are pivotal.
Amid her journey, Bozhena encountered a transformative project at Credit Suisse. “Early in my career, I was involved in a data governance project at Credit Suisse, where we were tasked with establishing a data governance framework to improve data quality and compliance.” This experience provided her with invaluable insights into the significance of data governance, sparking a passion that would guide her future endeavors.
Bozhena’s journey reached a zenith upon joining Murdio, where her dedication and effort culminated in becoming a certified Collibra Ranger. This certification not only showcased her expertise but also exemplified her resilience and commitment to the field. The Collibra Ranger certification is a testament to her in-depth understanding of data governance and her ability to navigate its intricacies.
Diversity stands as a cornerstone of success in data governance and, although it should lean on gender diversity, it should not be limited to it. Bozhena emphasizes that a diverse range of perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences enriches decision-making and innovation. She explains, “All of this gives different perspectives, and when you are working with such a complex construct as data governance, it’s really important to take all perspectives into account.”
In this sense, Bozhena’s opinion is that having women’s perspectives find a stronger voice in shaping the field is vital for its own growth.
In the sphere of data governance, women possess distinctive qualities that amplify their effectiveness. Attributes such as strong communication, collaboration, attention to detail, problem-solving, adaptability, empathy, and user-centricity shine through. Bozhena believes that women’s empathetic and user-focused approach significantly contributes to user-friendly data governance solutions. She elaborates, “When it comes to someone needing to be a strong communicator and to have a collaborative approach, attention to detail, problem solving, adaptability… Also, some user-centricity, I think this is the part where women come in.”
While progress towards gender equality is evident, challenges rooted in historical biases and conservative notions persist. Bozhena acknowledges that, although it does not happen nowadays, in her previous role in tech support, gender-based bias occasionally surfaced. However, she emphasizes that exposure, experience, and practice are effective tools for overcoming such biases. As she reflects, “The more women we see in supposedly male positions, the more people will get used to it. I believe it is the same thing as when you enter a taxi and there is a female driver. You are just not used to it enough, but in the end, you see no difference in competence or skills. This bias is probably related to how everyone was raised and what everyone is used to seeing, and the more we change that, the more common it will be in everyone’s eyes. For example, in my time in tech support, after I dealt with some clients long enough, that feeling completely disappeared and everything turned normal swiftly.”
Bozhena recognizes that cultivating a strong presence of women in leadership roles within data governance requires a multi-dimensional approach. One of the strategies she advocates for is embracing diverse hiring practices, not only for leadership roles but throughout the data governance spectrum. Likewise, she firmly believes in showcasing the enormous range of opportunities available within data governance, reaching out to women who might not have considered IT or data management as a viable career path. As Bozhena asserts, “Basically, showing that there is nothing scary here… It’s interesting, it’s very comprehensive, and it gives a lot of satisfaction.”
Establishing mentorship programs is another key strategy Bozhena believes in. She argues that formal mentorship initiatives, designed to empower emerging female talent, play a crucial role in building confidence and providing guidance. This aligns with broader efforts to increase gender diversity in the IT arena, ensuring that women’s unique perspectives and talents are valued.
Furthermore, offering flexible work arrangements becomes crucial in the mission to attract and retain women in data governance. Bozhena’s insight emphasizes that providing options that accommodate work-life balance needs can make a substantial difference in promoting the field as an inclusive and welcoming career choice for women.
Highlighting the career pathways available is equally crucial. By demonstrating the diverse paths that women can tread in data governance, from technical to people-oriented roles, more women can be drawn to the field, contributing their valuable insights and expertise.
In order to attract more women to the field of data governance, Bozhena suggests that fostering a broader understanding of the field is essential. To do that, she emphasizes the role of organizations that promote women’s empowerment in this area. “When it comes to initiatives, I think “Women in Tech” is a nice and very well-known one that seeks to address the underrepresentation of women in technology-related fields and works to create a more balanced and equitable workforce. These initiatives play a crucial role in breaking down barriers, changing perceptions, and creating opportunities for women to thrive in the technology industry. By highlighting the achievements and contributions of women in tech, these initiatives aim to create a more inclusive and diverse tech ecosystem.” Bozhena also highlights the importance of programs that inspire young girls to explore these opportunities from an early age. She states, “No one is taught that IT is broader than this… Girls are not taught that IT is not only about objects and programming these objects.”
Bozhena also underscores the significance of networking events and support groups designed exclusively for women within the data governance domain. These spaces provide opportunities for learning, collaboration, and mentorship, ultimately contributing to the growth and advancement of women in the field.
Beyond the tangible outcomes, these initiatives are sparking a ripple effect. Visible role models and success stories, not unlike Bozhena’s, inspire more women to enter the data governance area, transforming the landscape by diversifying the talent pool and driving positive change from within.
In unity, these initiatives are carving a path toward a future where gender diversity is not only acknowledged but celebrated within the vibrant realm of data governance. Bozhena envisions a future where gender parity in leadership roles is the norm. She states, “I really believe that at some point it will be 50/50…”.
By embracing these efforts, the industry would foster an environment where women’s voices are amplified, contributions are valued, and leadership opportunities are abundant.
For young individuals aspiring to excel in data governance, Bozhena offers sound advice. She urges them to nurture curiosity, embrace learning, and approach challenges without fear. Mistakes, she believes, are integral to the learning process, and persistence is key. In a rapidly evolving field like data governance, passion and continuous learning are the emblems of success. She conveys, “Be eager to learn. Don’t be afraid… Try to search for answers yourself in several sources first, and then come to somebody and say, ‘Hey, I have three options; which one do you think is correct?’ Don’t go for the easy solution.”
As women like Bozhena continue to make their mark on data governance, their experiences and perspectives are paving the way for a more inclusive and innovative future. Their unique strengths and insights are driving architecture, strategy, and user experience forward. Through awareness, advocacy, and collaboration, the potential of women in data governance is being fully realized.
“While progress is being made, there is still work to be done to achieve full gender equality within the data governance field. The future will likely see a combination of efforts from individuals, organizations, and the industry as a whole to create an environment where women can thrive, add their unique perspectives, and lead in data governance roles.”
With Bozhena’s insights as a guide, a future where women thrive in data governance is within reach.