WiDS 2020 Regional Events Pivot Online

We continue to be in awe of the dedication and tenacity of the WiDS ambassadors worldwide. Most of the events described below were planned as in-person events prior to global COVID-19 restrictions. WiDS ambassadors quickly pivoted to online conferences, embracing the format to reach broader audiences.

There are many more WiDS regional events happening online, including:

WiDS Honolulu

The first ever WiDS Honolulu was held on March 4, 2020 at the University of Hawaii (UH) hosted by WiDS ambassador Trisha Mahoney from IBM. The event was held in partnership with UH’s Hawaii Data Science Institute, Chaminade University’s data science program, and IBM and featured 14 of Hawaii’s data science leaders from industry and academia. The conference drew 180 participants which included a mix of college students, university professors, industry data scientists and high-school students. There were 11 tech talks and 3 panels with topics ranging from HI-SEAS Mars exploration, Data Science for Community Impact, AI Bias, Multi-Omics Analysis, and Consumer Banking to name a few. The event made a big community impact and encouraged many emerging Hawaii data scientists to grow their skills, confidence and job opportunities.

Trisha Mahoney also interviewed WiDS Co-Director, Karen Matthys, about the Women in Data Science (WiDS) initiative at Stanford on this episode of IBM’s The Data Science podcast.

WiDS Kingston

Ambassadors Erica Simmons and Latoya Clarke started out planning an in-person seminar at the Caribbean Maritime University in Kingston, Jamaica, but the seminar was quickly transformed into an online event due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing mandates. The inaugural WiDS Kingston launched on March 27, 2020, bringing together Women in Data Science doing awesome work in Jamaica. The theme of the online seminar was “Professional Women in Data Science”, with guest speakers Kadeon Grant from Digicel Group, Raquel Saville from Caribbean BI Brainz, Sue Wright of ID Maps, Tiffany Fisher-Rhoden from ITEL BPO Smart Solutions and Laytoya Clarke from Solutech Innovation, Ltd shared their experiences as women in the data science field including what a typical day looks like for each woman. The seminar was hosted by Shannon Stephenson of Innovate10X and Erica Simmons, Caribbean Maritime University gave the keynote presentation highlighting statistics and global women working to ensure that there is ethics and humanity in data science. The event was well attended by females and males showing support for professional women in data science. The team was happy to have launched the first WiDS event in the English-speaking Caribbean.

WiDS Quito

Margot Gerritsen joins WiDS Quito, remotely

The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences of Universidad de Las Américas in Quito, Ecuador organized WiDS Quita @ UDLA 2019 and 2020 events. Both events included a series of initiatives to motivate more women to hone their skills by using a social impact challenge. Women leaders in data science shared their experiences, and lessons learned about their work. Students participating were able to consider in their plans careers related to data science, artificial intelligence, and other related fields. This year, in addition to the face-to-face form, an online mode was included to reach a more significant number of participants in the world. The most used keywords during the event were diversity, inclusion, opportunity, equity, and innovation.

WiDS Subotica

WiDS Subotica was organized by Tatjana Kecojevic for a second year in a row. WiDS Subotica 2020 was an online event, due to COVID-19 restrictions. The program included five presentations by featured outstanding women within the Data Science community in Serbia and beyond, made possible because of the online format. Maria Knorps discussed how to deal with sparse data; Agnieszka Kaminska spoke about the importance of feature preprocessing in her research; Zeljana Grbovic talked about using deep learning to predict agricultural crop yield; Tijana Blagojev spoke about using data science for media policy development; and Bojana Soro talked about data science in digital publishing.


The WiDS ambassador team in Beirut at the American University of Beirut (AUB) has held the largest in-person regional events in prior years. Lama Moussawi, Hoda Daou, Lina Daouk-Öyry, Rasha Bohsali, and Mariette Awad were planning to do so again until COVID-19 thwarted them. They pivoted quickly, converting WiDS @ AUB into a webinar with the theme, “The Power of Data Science in Age of COVID-19 Pandemic: From Global Business Strategies to Targeted Healthcare Applications”, featuring Eva-Marie Muller-Stuler, Chief Data Scientist for IBM, and Zeenat Patrawala is a founding member of Google Health.

Watch the webinar recording:

WiDS Madrid @ Universidad Rey Juan Carlos

More than 3,000 people attended the WIDS Madrid @ Universidad Rey Juan Carlos online conference organized by WIDS ambassadors Carmen and Mónica de Pablos. The event focused on women-led innovation in Data Science and women leaders of prestigious companies such as Indra, Naturgy and Secuoya Group shared with participants their own experiences.

The culmination of the interesting presentations was a colloquium on gender equality in the ICT sector and the role of the University in the training and orientation of women towards careers focused on Data Science. Many attendees provided positive feedback, highlighting the enormous effort of the speakers to adapt to the circumstances and their quality and professionalism dealing with a subject that they found very interesting and necessary.

You can read more about the event, or watch a video recap.

WiDS São Paulo

The Women in Data Science São Paulo took place online enabling the organizers to reach the whole of Brazil. More than 500 people participated during the WiDS São Paulo event, and more than 1,000 more people have viewed the content available post-event. Cynthia Zanoni talked about “Fighting the Imposter Syndrome”; Carla Vieira spoke about “Artificial Intelligence, Interpretability and Justice”; Samara Alves covered “CORELs — A Interpretable Model”; and Talita Shiguemoto talked about “Calibrating probabilities — Are you using the correct probability”.

All videos have english subtitles and can be viewed on YouTube:

WiDS São Paulo Day 1
WiDS São Paulo Day 2

WiDS Guanajuato

WiDS Guanajuato took place online on April 27, 2020 in planned by WiDS ambassadors Ivete Sánchez-Bravo and Leticia Ramirez Ramirez. This one-day event featured three sections, starting with data science basics, and continuing industrial applications and a scientific application in genomics. Later, there was a discussion session among five panelists with academic and industrial background, they discussed the applications and challenges in Data Science. Finally, the event finished with a mini-course that focused on visualization with tips and examples.

WiDS Guanajuato video sessions are in a Facebook Group. All videos are in Spanish.

WiDS Tucson

WiDS Tucson was held on April 17, 2020, as a virtual conference attended by approximately 200 people, including from as far away as Brazil. The event was introduced by WiDS Ambassador Bonnie LaFleur, followed by a keynote address from Calline Sanchez, VP, IBM Worldwide Systems Lab Services. Concurrent talks were given on Cancer Biology, Textual Data, Life Experiences in Suicide Individuals, Education Access Equity, and Data Policy followed. Panel discussions on Data Analytics in HealthCare, and on Entrepreneurship were each lively and informative, followed by DataBlitz three-minute lightning talks. The afternoon featured inspiring parallel Keynote talks from Marie Wesselhoft, Tech Launch Arizona Venture Development and President of MSDx; Deborah Hughes Hallett, Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and Professor at UArizona Mathematics; More concurrent talks followed, covering Ecosystem Science, Astrobiology, Educational & Psychological Measurement, Cultivating Productivity for Discovery, Indigenous Data Sovereignty, and Viewing fMRI Results. An animated panel discussion on Data Ethics & Bias generated thought-provoking questions and comments, followed by a poster session. The day concluded with a virtual Happy Hour, allowing participants more opportunities to network and brainstorm towards WiDS Tucson 2021.

The WiDS Tucson community expresses their gratitude to Susan Miller for her tireless energy to the advancement of women in data science, including bringing the WiDS conference to Tucson. The conference day was Susan’s last day before her retirement. We wish her well, and are hopeful that she will grace us with her assistance and presence next year!

Read more regional event summaries, skim through photos, and watch video recordings shared by #WiDS2020 ambassadors:
March events
April events
May events
June and July events

Thank you, WiDS ambassadors!

Thank you WiDS ambassadors for all your dedicated hard work organizing and hosting WiDS regional events, in-person and online.

Find out more about upcoming WiDS regional events.

Inspiring and educating data scientists, regardless of gender, featuring outstanding women in the field. widsconference.org

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