Empowering Women in Data Science: WiDS Cambridge 2020

 |   MSNE Staff

Only 25% of all technical occupations are held by women, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology. Here at Microsoft, we seek to empower more women to enter into and advance through careers in technology.

In early March we were excited to collaborate with Harvard University’s Institute for Applied Computational Science, MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, and Stanford University to host the fourth annual Women in Data Science (WiDS) Cambridge conference. WiDS was started at Stanford in 2015 and has now grown to a global initiative with more than 150 events worldwide that aim to inspire and educate data scientists worldwide, regardless of gender, and to support women in the field.

Manon Revel, MIT, IDSS; Bo Yun Park, Harvard; Joan Donovan, PhD, Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard; and Camille Francois, CIO, Graphika present on the panel "Data weaponized, data scrutinized: a war on information." Photo by Dana J. Quigley Photography.
Manon Revel, MIT, IDSS; Bo Yun Park, Harvard; Joan Donovan, PhD, Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard; and Camille Francois, CIO, Graphika present on the panel “Data weaponized, data scrutinized: a war on information.” Photo by Dana J. Quigley Photography.

WiDS Cambridge featured an all-female identifying lineup of speakers from academia and industry who shared their latest data science-related research, ranging from cancer research, voting rights, machine learning, astronomy, and more.

The wide variety of research topics was a big draw for many attendees who were interested in learning more about the latest data science developments outside of their individual fields. Angela Banks, a senior scientist at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, said she was excited to get an overview of the different niches within data science.

Shirley Liu, Professor of Biostatistics at Harvard T.H. Chan School Of Public Health, presents her technical talk "Computational Biology in Translational Cancer Research." Photo by Dana J. Quigley Photography.
Shirley Liu, Professor of Biostatistics at Harvard T.H. Chan School Of Public Health, presents her technical talk “Computational Biology in Translational Cancer Research.” Photo by Dana J. Quigley Photography.

WiDS also provides attendees the opportunity to connect with potential mentors, collaborators, and others in the field. “In data science the representation of women is low,” Angela said. “I thought it would be great to see women leaders and have the opportunity to network.”

Julia Gaudio of MIT presents her lighting talk “Sparse High-Dimensional Isotonic Regression.” Photo by Dana J. Quigley Photography.
Julia Gaudio of MIT presents her lighting talk “Sparse High-Dimensional Isotonic Regression.” Photo by Dana J. Quigley Photography.

Katherine Cyr, a masters student at Harvard studying biostatistics, said she was excited to attend WiDS for the first time to learn more about the data science field and to network with other women. We asked her what advice she would give to future aspiring data scientists: “Get your hands dirty and be okay with the idea of having to figure things out. If you’re overwhelmed, take a deep breath and think, ‘if other people figured it out, I can too.’”

Photo by Dana J. Quigley Photography.
Photo by Dana J. Quigley Photography.

It was inspiring to see the cutting-edge research that women of all backgrounds shared at WiDS, and we’re excited to see the presence and power of women in data science continue to grow.

 

See Microsoft’s career openings in data science here.