Article written by: Allen Hillery, Feature Photo by Tim Gouw from Pexels
November is that time of year when you start to reflect on end of year activities. A lot of us are also planning for Holiday seasons with family and friends. In fact, this is the time where you start hearing, “Let’s circle back after the holidays.” frequently on work calls. You also may try to catch up with as many friends as possible as you juggle get-togethers and holiday shopping.
As I begin to slow down a bit for the holidays, I think about old traditions as well as creating new ones. I’m also thinking about data goals I would like to achieve in 2023. As I turn the radio dial, I stop on the station that is playing Christmas music. That’s when I hear Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and become flooded by nostalgia. It was one of my favorite songs growing up. I also watched the movie more times than I can remember. Who knew that it would now inspire my next data blog post?
Who are the faces of data?
“You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen.
Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen.
But do you recall
The most famous reindeer of all?”Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Gene Autry and The Pinafores
Sarah and I are planning to create data personas in 2023 and I can’t help but think of Rudolph and his shiny red nose. His nose made him stand out from the other reindeer. He also wasn’t included in their reindeer games. This can remind us how today’s definition of data literacy or who is a data practitioner does not include all walks of life. Data literacy also includes non-traditional students, multiple job holders, retirees and caregivers.
I recently had a conversation with one of my students. We will call them Liz for the purpose of this article. Liz shared how they had to defer their college career twice to step up as a caregiver for her family. The most recent time was during the global pandemic. We exchanged experiences of caregiving, balancing goals and ambitions while attending to the needs of loved ones. We also reflected on the shifting roles developing with those who once looked after us. We were now looking after them.
Liz chose to supplement her family’s income with an hourly job in addition to her full-time career. She shared that she knew she should have started looking for a higher paying job but was just too tired. She didn’t have the energy to take on an exhaustive job search. These days, companies are putting applicants through a minimum of seven interviews and two test before they are even short listed! Had Liz not taken this part-time job, she might not have decided her next career goal.
Liz has chosen to pursue a degree a PhD in Organizational Behavior. While she recognizes that she has other career opportunities, she knows many of her co-workers will have difficulty breaking the cycle of low-wage, low fulfillment work. This path often leads to low opportunities, unmet possibilities and dreams deferred. Liz is particularly interested in analyzing the exploitation of low-wage workers post covid. One of the goals of her research is to leverage data analytics to craft solutions for both employees and employers. She aspires to optimize corporate incentives to implement just wage distribution to increase productivity. In turn, she wants to analyze how this optimization can positively affect social systems.
I’ve had so many conversations like the one I had with Liz. There are so many people who have had non-traditional or divergent career paths over the past few years. While exacerbated by the pandemic, non-traditional career paths have always existed. As we begin to normalize hybrid work schedules and gig economies, companies need to start paying more attention to employee needs. As we continue to embrace data is everywhere, it’s time that we acknowledge the Rudolphs. It’s our belief at Be Data Lit that they have something to add to the datasphere.
Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say
‘Rudolph with your nose so bright
Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Gene Autry and The Pinafores