By Emily Lopez and Amy Neeser. This year, faced with the challenge of social distancing, Women in Data Science (WiDS) has reimagined its traditional conference and announced an inaugural 24-hour global event on March 8, International Women’s Day. This worldwide event will feature women researchers from around the world who will present their work, share the latest data science skills, and discuss their journeys towards becoming the scholars they are today.
At a local level, a diverse and dynamic UC Berkeley planning committee has created a free, virtual, Berkeley-focused WiDS event. Whether you’re a seasoned professional in this field or a curious undergraduate who wants to see what data science at Berkeley is about, we encourage everyone to attend! The WiDS Berkeley conference is open to all genders and gender expressions.
The Women in Data Science (WiDS) at UC Berkeley Conference will be held March 8 – 12, 2021. Events will take place each day between 10 am and 12 noon, featuring different keynote speakers and activities structured around a central theme:
- Tuesday, 3/9: Research-focused programming will feature Tech Talks from four incredible women across different disciplines and careers. Each will share a short glimpse into their work.
- Wednesday, 3/10: A student-themed event will highlight student experiences in data science through short talks from graduate and undergraduate students.
- Thursday, 3/11: An inspiration-focused networking event will provide attendees the opportunity to engage with one another to share what drives and inspires their work while forging valuable new connections with one another.
More information about the schedule and registration is available online.
Conference Highlights and Take Aways
The planning committee has sought to elevate the voices of underrepresented backgrounds in the field while also accounting for the wide range of data science disciplines. Data science cuts across all disciplines and is like a uniting force. The committee is especially excited about Vivienne Ming’s talk since it’s a great opportunity to highlight LGBTQ+ voices in data science. Alicia Tsai, an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Ph.D. student at Berkeley and WiDS planning member, said she is particularly looking forward to the talk by her fellow student Tiffany Tang, a Ph.D. candidate in Statistics at Berkeley, and that it will be the first time Ph.D. students present at a WiDS Berkeley conference.
The conference offers a chance for people to meet each other and to get inspired for their own careers. Tsai emphasized that the conference is a good opportunity for people who are already in data science to get exposure to different perspectives on how others use data in their work, and to see how to approach their own work from a different angle through data.
Attendees looking for some guidance or who would like to share their experiences, the conference is an opportunity to look for potential mentors or mentees or forge relationships that may lead to potential collaborations, career opportunities, and internships. Above all, this conference builds a sense of community amongst women in data science.
Tsai said that WiDS Berkeley can be inspiring and encouraging for people who are not sure about what next step to take, or for people who want to go into data science but remain hesitant. “It’s very valuable that there’s a sense of community,” Tsai said, “it helps with the retention of women in this field…helps them feel like they’re not alone and that there are people they can go to.”
This conference is a great stepping stone for what we can hope to see in the future: an institutionalized, welcoming community for everyone in data science.
Photo: Student volunteers and attendees at WiDS Berkeley Conference 2020.
We’d like to give special thanks to the planners behind this year’s WiDS Berkeley Conference: Alicia Tsai (graduate student), Amy Neeser (Research IT), Claudia Natalia von Vacano PhD (D-Lab), Doris Schioberg (iSchool), Erin Foster (Library, Research IT), Iberia Zafira (University Development and Alumni Relations), Kelly Rowland (Lawrence Berkeley National Lab), Liliana Cardile (Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society), Liza Schlosser-Olroyd (Academic Innovation Studio), Muskaan Goyal (undergraduate student), Reza Fazelre (MathWorks)
We’d also like to thank our sponsors who are making this year’s WiDS Berkeley Conference possible: D-Lab; Division of Computing, Data Science and Society; OneIT; Research IT; Research, Teaching, and Learning; School of Information; and the UC Berkeley Library.