Second annual Women in Data Science conference showcases research, explores challenges

MIT News

Two hundred students, industry professionals, and academic leaders convened at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts for the second annual Women in Data Science (WiDS) conference on March 5. The conference grew from 150 participants last year, and highlighted local strength in academics and health care. "The WiDS conference highlighted female leadership in data science in the Boston area," said Caroline Uhler, a member of the WiDS steering committee who is an IDSS core faculty member and assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) at MIT. "This event is particularly important to encourage more female scientists in related areas to join this emerging area that has such broad societal impact." Regina Barzilay, Delta Electronics Professor of EECS, gave the first presentation on how data science and machine learning approaches are improving cancer research. Barzilay said her experiences as a breast cancer survivor motivates her work.


Second annual Women in Data Science conference showcases research, explores challenges

MIT News

Two hundred students, industry professionals, and academic leaders convened at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts for the second annual Women in Data Science (WiDS) conference on March 5. The conference grew from 150 participants last year, and highlighted local strength in academics and health care. "The WiDS conference highlighted female leadership in data science in the Boston area," said Caroline Uhler, a member of the WiDS steering committee who is an IDSS core faculty member and assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) at MIT. "This event is particularly important to encourage more female scientists in related areas to join this emerging area that has such broad societal impact." Regina Barzilay, Delta Electronics Professor of EECS, gave the first presentation on how data science and machine learning approaches are improving cancer research. Barzilay said her experiences as a breast cancer survivor motivates her work.


Leading the charge

#artificialintelligence

Data science is transforming many industries, from health care to banking to heavy manufacturing, and women are leading the charge. That was the crux of the Cambridge Women in Data Science Conference, held March 5 as part of a global event launched by Stanford University in 2015 to educate, inspire, and connect women in tech. The local conference, now in its second year, was hosted by the Institute of Applied Computational Science (IACS) at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society; and Microsoft. Distinguished speakers from academia and industry presented technical talks to more than 240 female technologists, researchers, and students, highlighting research in such areas as deep learning applications in oncology, data science tools for pollution monitoring, and the challenges of preventing bias in algorithms. In addition, local winners of an international datathon/kaggle challenge, held in conjunction with Stanford's global conference were announced, and students presented posters and took advantage of networking and recruiting opportunities.


Women in Data Science conference highlights impactful work and builds community

MIT News

The Women in Data Science Conference event in Cambridge, Massachusetts -- held on Feb. 3 at the Microsoft NERD Center -- brought together a full room of approximately 150 academic leaders, industry professionals, and students. The event was co-hosted by the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS), the Harvard University Institute for Applied Computational Science, and Microsoft Research New England. The day-long event was preceded by the pre-event, "Hacking Bias and Discrimination Ideation Session," an opportunity for participants to consider the potential for machine learning to introduce different kinds of bias in a number of contexts -- and to discuss ways to mitigate this. IDSS Executive Director Elizabeth Sikorovsky welcomed attendees to the conference, noting that the Cambridge event was just one of more than 75 Women in Data Science conferences happening worldwide. Likewise, Cathy Chute, executive director of the Harvard Institute for Applied Computational Science, commented that the full room and the extensive roster of similar events worldwide "demonstrated the power of community."


About WiML Workshop

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Machine learning is one of the fastest growing areas of computer science research. In spite of the wide reach of machine learning and the variety of theory and applications it covers, the percentage of female researchers is lower than in many other areas of computer science. Most women working in machine learning rarely get the chance to interact with other female researchers, making it easy to feel isolated and hard to find role models. The annual Women in Machine Learning (WiML) Workshop is our flagship event. This day-long technical workshop gives female faculty, research scientists, and graduate students in the machine learning community an opportunity to meet, exchange ideas and learn from each other.