Women in Data Science (WiDS) Conference in Toronto

Data Science. Machine Learning. Data Analytics. Artificial Intelligence (AI).

These are some of the most common buzz words in the technology field today. But what is so significant about these disciplines within the tech industry?

Students from the Digital Business Management Program, Prabhavi Vashisht (fourth year) and Michallia Marks (second year), along with their Professor and Program Coordinator, Hanadi Alnawab, attended the annual Women in Data Science (WiDS) conference in Toronto, on Saturday, March 23, 2019. They sought to expand their knowledge and learn more about the field of Data Science.

Growth and comfort do not coexist,” founder of WiDS, Kishawna Peck says. “I planned this conference because representation matters. I wanted to show that we women are not outliers in this field but a part of a larger collective of exceptional women. I want to show what is possible and celebrate the women’s journey,” she continues. 

There were a myriad of presenters in attendance from both academic institutions and corporate companies, including Ryerson University, Google, Microsoft, Wattpad, Klick Inc, IBM, and RBC, among others. Some of the topics presented included: How Data Science Supports Creative Industries, The Use of AI to Empower Persons with Disabilities, and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Data Science.

Ideas are easy; execution is everything.

Takeaway points from the various presenters include:

  • Risk is not a negative word. It comprises of two parts: threat (economic, political ethical, social) and opportunity (the reality of what you can see). 
  • Ideas are easy; execution is everything.
  • New tools and technologies are always coming out; you will feel like you are behind. 
  • Data impacts everyone and every industry.
  • AI is a growing field, therefore, there will continue to be a cultural shift in many industries and organization.

Have the Obama frame of mind – “YES I CAN”.

The event concluded with a panelist discussion where attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions and receive advise as it relates to their various professions and area of study. As a student, I listened attentively to the advise given. The panelists gave 4 tips to succeed in our respective careers:

  1. Fail. Stand back up. Do it again. Get better. Try again.
  2. Ask for what you want.
  3. Have the Obama frame of mind – “YES I CAN”.
  4. And finally, understand your value and add tax to it. 

This was a great experience to see the myriad of opportunities available in this aspect of technology, which frankly is showing no sign of slowing down. 

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