In 2015, Margot Gerritsen, director of Stanford’s Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering, got tired of technical conferences that included no or few women speakers. “I always joke that this meeting was a revenge effect,” she said. “We wanted to showcase really amazing work that’s being done by women.”
Now, in its third year, the Women in Data Science conference included 17 women speakers and roughly 100,000 people listening on live stream or Facebook Live. More than 170 regional events in over 50 countries also featured their own panels of women speakers. Gerritsen, who is also a professor of energy resources engineering, said one reason for the meeting is to inspire women to enter and stay in the field of data science. “It’s still really tough for women not to feel a little isolated,” she said.
One outcome of the event has been lists of women worldwide who can speak about data science that are now regularly provided to meeting organizers looking for women speakers. “I would never have imagined that we would be reaching so many people,” Gerritsen said.
Women who attended the meeting reflected on their own experiences and the value of a community of inspiring women.