It is such a pleasure to sit with people whose passion can inspire others to pursue their dreams, and we are glad we have met many, Jamilatuz Zahro is one of them. This young Indonesian woman told us the perks of working in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) sectors with her cheerful beaming eyes and smile that showed her enthusiasm towards her job.
Zahro is one of inspiring women who successfully beat the stigma that believes only men can do great in STEAM industries, “Any woman who works in a male-dominated industries is familiar to some typical comments they have gotten along the lines such as ‘too bad you have only a few of women counterparts’ or ‘that must be very difficult to adapt to be the only woman in the table’, but let me tell you one thing, working in STEAM industries is a very rewarding experience!” she said.
Zahro is currently working for Gojek as Research Analyst, and she also takes the same position at the World Bank, Jakarta. Yes, you read it right, Zahro must be that amazing to have two dream jobs at a time, right? (Actually, she is!) Not to mention she serves as Head of Research at Data Science Indonesia—a nationwide data enthusiast community.
Being an inspiring person herself, Zahro—who has a master’s degree in Mathematics from Bandung Institute of Technology—is a humble and warm person. When she was being asked about her journey until become the person she is today, she seemed to lose count of people she wanted to appreciate along the way.
“But it is my Dad who has impacted me to choose this field. He has been a businessman since I was a kid. Witnessing his love for math made me fall for mathematics too. This really helped me in solving math tasks and examinations during my school days.”
It does not stop there, Zahro won medals at the Indonesia’s National Science Olympiad (OSN) in 2005 and 2008 for Mathematics and Physics.
While it is generally known that Computer Science is a mix of all STEAM categories, people may wonder how Mathematics is specifically correlated with STEAM.
“Well when we discuss about Mathematics in STEAM, then we talk mainly about statistics. If you are interested in getting into data science, for me, there are at least four skills we must recognize. The first one is programming skill, then mathematics and statistics, business logic, and let’s not forget about communications,” Zahro said.
It might sound quite serious for some people while hearing her explanation, but Zahro also revealed a funny part of being a data scientist.
“While I am very familiar with all the logical thinking skills I need to analyzing and processing data, I became quite unfamiliar with perceiving and expressing my feelings or emotions. That is why when people are amazed at how data scientists work in STEAM field, I would also convey the downside of being one. Really, sometimes when I say I am sad, for instance, people will not easily believe me because I do not cry or look just happy. Thus, I might say, of all skills I said before, communication skills are the most challenging one for me, this skill is mainly use to translate mathematical formula into our daily language,” Zahro laughed.
Talking about data science skills, Zahro added that one just cannot use a single statistical thinking method to analyze all cases. “It does not work like a cookie-cutter. For example, when we want to predict IHSG, we can opt for forecasting analytic as the approach, but for a more dynamic case such as grouping all Jakartans based on their income or other criteria, we can use cluster analysis method.”
Zahro also added, through STEAM world, she could expand her network and be involved in projects with related notable figures in the country—from being an intern at Bank of Indonesia in 2014 where she was responsible to forecast the inflation in the said year, to Data Management Consultant under the Jakarta Communication Informatics, and Statistics Department (Diskominfotik) from 2018 until now, until the roles she is currently taking in both Gojek and the World Bank—not to mention she frequently appears as guest speaker talking about STEAM industries in numerous workshops and seminars.
This proves that women are as capable as men in the industries. “Be careful with stereotype for it can greatly affect our mindset and belief. With wrong assumption saying women are not capable working in STEAM field, it somehow can stimulate reluctance among society. To date, there are many data communities that are dedicated for women to join. I am confident we can have more women in the industries if we can grow the awareness,” Zahro smiled.
As much as we love to hear more of STEAM world through Zahro’s eyes, she also encourages more people to join the Data Science Indonesia to learn more about STEAM.