Written by: Emily on June 21, 2018Tags: Day in the life of, Inspiration, Interviews, Role Model, Women in Tech
In April we were lucky enough to visit Clue’s HQ in Kreuzberg, Berlin, where we spoke to Data Scientist Marija Vlajic Wheeler. As well as discussing all things Clue, Marija shared her journey into tech with us.
We were incredibly inspired by Marija and the work that she does. Here’s her story…
I’m a Data Scientist, but in the three years that I’ve been at Clue I have worked on a number of different projects. I concentrate on helping our users get most out of the data that they track with us and I observe how our users use the app itself. As a result I work closely with the product development team, identifying which of our features are most successful. We use our knowledge on how people use the app to make it even more intuitive and user friendly. I have also been involved in a number of research collaborations, whereby I work directly with researchers from our partner universities and maintain our relationship with them, sharing data and knowledge.
Yes, I was very much in love with astrophysics in high school. I eventually did my PhD in astrophysics at Oxford University. Then I got a job in Potsdam, which is how I ended up moving to Berlin.
Throughout high school and my undergraduate years I thought that was going to be working in astrophysics for the rest of my life, but later I realised that whilst I loved astrophysics there were certain sides of working in academia that weren’t for me. I wanted to stay in Berlin so I decided to leave academia but stay in the city. Around that time the Berlin ‘tech boom’ really started and data scientists started to become more sought after.
For people coming out of academia going into data science is one of the most natural career progressions, there are a surprising amount of of things in common between the two. I may not work with galaxies anymore, but the way we think about data, work with it and ask questions about it is similar to the way we work with galaxies! Growing up I didn’t see myself becoming a data scientist but then again I didn’t really know what a start-up was or even less what a data scientist was. I think it’s important we tell young people about all of these exciting potential careers early on, as it’s not a given that they will end up doing what they love accidentally.
The feedback that we receive from our users. When you’re in need of some motivation the positive feedback we get is what really keeps me going. The various ways in which Clue has helped people is something which I have never experienced in my previous jobs. People email us stating that Clue has literally saved their lives; for example it may have helped them detect an ectopic pregnancy. There’s so many cases where people have told us that through tracking their cycle using Clue they have noticed abnormalities, and as a result they would go see their doctor.
Not feeling confident to go see your doctor about menstrual health issues is a huge problem generally, due to fear of it not being taken as seriously as other issues. So having this record of how your body has been behaving empowers people and helps them to either diagnose the conditions they have, or seek advice. We’ve had messages from women who have caught an early cancer using Clue. To have such an impact and knowing that it really does change people’s lives is incredibly powerful and fulfilling.
If I had to pick one woman as a role model, I’d have to say Lara Hogan. I love everything she writes on how you should treat the people you work with, help people move up in their careers and how you should try to reduce your biases as much as possible.
Right now, there are a number of women in tech who are sharing their stories, whether that be on Twitter or blog posts. That has opened my eyes to a lot of issues that I care about. It’s inspiring seeing these women talking about these issues in a way that wasn’t really happening about five years ago.
Be aware that if you don’t feel confident, you probably aren’t feeling that because of your personal qualities, but because of the way the patriarchal system has been functioning for years due to the biases embedded within it. It’s very powerful when you recognise that these implicit biases are real. The sooner you learn about them, the sooner you can work to change them.