Women in STEM roles have to work twice as hard and often take on a male persona to achieve equity in the workplace. Not so Esther Marmol-Queralto, a leading data scientist at TVSquared, and worldwide trailblazer in TV attribution.
Here Esther shares her experience of working in a male-dominated field and offers advice and learnings, from the start of her career, to other women striking out in STEM roles.
Have you overcome any struggles in the workplace?
The necessity of having to speak several times before your voice is noticed and heard was a hurdle I had to overcome in my chosen field. It is quite common in a male-dominated environment that you send an idea around and insist on it, and it is only considered as a serious possibility when it is re-phrased by a male colleague.
This might be innocent and unconscious most of the time, but it is something that most women have to fight against to allow our own ideas to get through – and receive the appropriate credit. I have found that my female colleagues and I need to be extra careful to ensure ideas are shared and not taken. I’ve learnt how and when to stand firm, to be heard and claim my space when needed.
What advice would you give your younger self now?
Perfect is the enemy of the good.
You should take every opportunity as it comes; you will always learn something in the way in which it will be useful in the future. And you’ll never stop learning, but that’s part of the fun.
Who are your role models?
The strong women around me and within my family are my main role models. In particular, my mother for her unwavering support and my aunt, who worked in the public sector to protect women under threat from their partners.
I found many inspirational women throughout my academic career, such as Jocelyn Bell, who discovered the first radio pulsars, one of the greatest astronomical discoveries of the twentieth century. She is an amazing example of what is possible. From her position, she has actively campaigned to improve the status and number of women in professional and academic posts in the fields of physics and astronomy.
Also, there are some key women in my life who teach me every day that there is always another way of doing something and they are my example to follow. It’s fantastic to see them facing complicated situations in their male-dominated working environments and being able to learn from their experiences.
Do you have any tips on overcoming masculinity in the workplace?
Sometimes it is necessary to mirror male orientated behaviour to show how inappropriate it is; sometimes it is best to demonstrate alternative ways to proceed. I’ve discovered this throughout my working life, and it’s something each woman will, unfortunately, learn for herself as we work towards a balanced world for all, no matter their gender.
Do you have any comments on how others can close the gap between men and women?
I think there are two main areas where we as women can influence others to close the gender gap and it is easily accessible to all of us:
- Help the younger generation(s): by showing yourself as a happy and successful person in your chosen specialism or topic – in my case, science and tech – to young girls and teenagers in their own discovery journey. I actively participated in open events at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid – where I studied for my degree, masters and PhD accreditations – and during my time at various research institutes to show that women in those areas exist and are equal to any other men.
- Give credit to other female colleagues: In both their attempts and successes, and don’t stop encouraging them in their next steps by facilitating the journey when needed. This doesn’t mean to give them an advantage over others, as they probably don’t need it, it means to give them the space to grow and develop to their potential.
About Esther Esther Marmol-Queralto: Remarkable in the fields of data analysis and visualisation, Esther brings to her role a strong analytical background and extensive expertise in mathematical modelling. Esther delivers technical solutions for TVSquared’s latest models and ongoing projects.
Impressively, Esther is not only a leading data scientist but also an astrophysicist. Before her role at TVSquared, Esther held post-doctoral research positions at a number of astrophysics institutes, including the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) located in the Canary Islands and the Institute for Astronomy in Edinburgh (IfA).
Esther has cultivated the ability to make complex ideas accessible to a variety of audiences and her scientific knowledge also extends into the areas of programming, statistical analysis, and machine learning. From her PhD in astrophysics, she brings a perceptive, data-driven approach to her current work at TVSquared.