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Mentoring – What Women in Big Data Is Doing About It

By Deborah Sgro  – WiBD Mentoring Director

In September 2021, McKinsey & Company, in partnership with Leanin.org, repeated a study of 65K women in corporate America known as Women In The Workplace 2021. The authors report: “Despite small gains in the pipeline (compared to 2016), women remain underrepresented across the corporate ladder.”

The authors continue, “Women continue to face a broken rung at the first step up to manager: for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 86 women are promoted. As a result, men outnumber women significantly at the manager level, which means that there are far fewer women to promote to higher levels.”

What can turn these numbers around?  The four actions most sighted in the literature to drive progress include:

  • Changes in corporate culture and practices
  • Engaging in mentorship
  • Utilizing sponsorship
  • Cultivating allyship

This is where Women in Big Data steps in by launching its 2022 Global Mentoring Initiative. Coordinating the mentoring interest generated by local chapters, we are happy to announce WiBD will start this year by offering seven mentoring programs, three of which are new programs. Here is a summary of the programs currently available:

Gayatri is a 1:1 virtual mentoring program to guide and nurture future tech leaders with focus on career advancement and career transition skills. Gayatri is open to mentees from India chapters with 3+ years tech experience, and mentors from any chapter with 10+ years. Participants can choose to engage for either 6 or 12 months, and are expected to meet 1 hour per week.

Getting From Here To There is a peer mentoring program focused on developing skills to create and execute a career advancement or new job search strategy. This three month virtual program is open to members from all chapters. Participants will work together, guided by 2 experienced facilitators, in 6 bi-weekly group meetings, with accountability pair “stand-ups” in between the group sessions.

Leadership Circles is a new invitation-only program designed to recognize and honor the contribution of our regional and chapter leadership. Based on the work of Dr. Ellen Snee’s book “Lead:  How Women In Leadership Claim Their Authority”, this 3-4 month virtual program utilizes large monthly assemblies and smaller discussion groups.

Mentor in Tech International is a 1:1 program focusing on technical skill and leadership development, product and program management, entrepreneurship, startup skills and career advancement. This 12-week virtual program is open to members from any chapter and is a good choice for mentees who have strong motivation, and mentors with 3+years tech experience. Pairs are expected to meet for at least 3 1-hour sessions.

Shakti is a 1:1 mentoring program supporting women returning to a data career after an employment break. This 4-6 month virtual program is open to mentees from India chapters with 3+ years experience and a 1-year minimum employment break, and for mentors from any chapter with 12+ years tech experience. Mentees are expected to invest 16-24 hours/week, and mentors are expected to contribute 1 hour weekly for the first 3 months and then 1 hour biweekly afterwards.

Another new program is Toronto Mentoring. This 12 week virtual 1:1 program is open to WiBD Canadian members. Toronto Mentoring is designed to meet career advancement and skill development goals. This is a good program for mentees with less than 5 years tech experience, and mentors with 5+ years of tech experience. Pairs are expected to meet minimally every 2 weeks for a 1-hour session.

Finally, our third new program is Data Science Olympians. This 4-month virtual project-based program focuses on advancing technology skill development and technical leadership through data science contest participation. Participants will work in teams led by peer leaders and peer coordinators and are expected to invest 4 to 6 hours weekly. Open to all WiBD members, this program welcomes everyone from data science enthusiasts to industry domain experts.

You’ll find more detailed program descriptions and links for applying on the mentoring tab of the WiBD website with direct link here.

Chapter and regional leaders, please email mentoring@womeninbigdata.org if you have an idea for a mentoring program. We’ll assign a Mentoring Admin partner to help your team develop their mentoring offering.  New mentoring programs will be launched quarterly.

And with that, let me encourage everyone to take advantage of this excellent opportunity to bypass that “broken rung”.

 

 

 

 

 

A Chat with Deb Sgro, WiBD Mentoring Director and Board Advisor

Women in Big Data recently sat down with Deb Sgro to get to know her more and introduce this amazing person to the community.

WiBD: Deb, let’s talk. Tell us a little about yourself.

Deb: Well, maybe I should start at the beginning. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, amongst a large Italian-American family. There was always people of all ages around for Sunday dinners, family celebrations, and just every day events. After graduating from college, I joined a program called V.I.S.T.A (Volunteers in service to America), and was assigned to Denver, Colorado as a speech and language therapist for a special needs educational program.


WiBD: Tell us about your career journey.

Deb: After working a number of years in Denver, I returned to New York and took a job as a programmer trainee. With On-The-Job training, and returning to graduate school to study Computer Science, I was able to establish myself in the field of Financial Technology. I worked 40+ years on Wall Street for the American Stock Exchange, the New York Stock Exchange, and BNY Mellon. My career focused on developing solutions for major regulatory initiatives, and deploying network and application security protocols. I retired from that career in 2020, and obtained certification as a career coach.  In 2021, I stared a private practice, “Beyond The Glass Ceiling, LLC”, coaching technical women.


WiBD: Can you tell us why you have been supportive of women and help to elevate them?

Deb: Both in graduate school and on the job I was frequently the only woman in the room. There were very few people to network with.  So throughout my career, I participated in the women mentoring programs; as a mentee, mentor, and as manager running mentoring initiatives. It’s easy to imagine this strategy came from my family life that understood there is strength in numbers. I look to create and join communities of women technologists so collectively we can become the best we were capable of being.


WiBD: How did you learn about Women in Big Data and what has been your engagement with the organization?

Deb: COVID-19 hit the world the same time I retired, scuttling all of my retirement plans.  Because I needed to develop another plan, I reached out to my former colleagues exploring possible opportunities. One of those colleagues was Erika Lunceford, who told me about her involvement in Women in Big Data. This sounded like an organization whose mission I could get behind, and so I joined. In 2021, we offered a Peer Mentoring program through the Bay Area chapter.  When conversations arose about a workgroup to pull together the organization’s various mentoring effort, I volunteered to lead that effort. Subsequently, I accepted the Mentoring Director position—and happy I did.


WiBD: What motivates you?

Deb: Probably there are two things that equally motivate me. One is the sense of accomplishment, especially if there is a challenge involved. The other is being of service, especially to provide opportunity where before there was none before.


WiBD: What bothers you?

Deb: A poorly stacked dishwasher!


WiBD: Any fun facts about you?

Deb: I try to engage in a daily Qigong practice.


WiBD: Any quotes or inspirations that you live by?

Deb: Maybe you heard this quote before. It’s my current favorite. I use it as the basis for presentations I give to Women Employee Groups. It comes from Shirley Chisholm, who was the first African-American woman elected to the United States Congress representing New York from 1969 to 1983, and the first woman to run for U.S. President in 1972.  So, I’d like to close with her words.

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair”.

 

Women in Big Data – International Women’s Day Celebration and Mentoring Program Launch

By Elaine Kwok

On March 8th, 2022, Women’s International Day (IWD), Women in Big Data (WiBD) hosted an IWD celebration featuring a fireside chat with two distinguished female leaders and launching a global mentoring program. This year’s IWD 2022 theme was “BreaktheBias” (#IWD2022 #BreakTheBias), and folks were welcomed by key sponsors and ambassador videos pledging “I’m the Solution. Join us to #Endbias”.

To drum up the beat for Women’s History Month, WiBD has commemorated women who have supported women by shining a light on distinguished volunteers on 2021 “Wall of Fame”.  Not only must we acknowledge that gender inequality struggle is in fact real, we must take action. That action can be through learning, sharing success or stories, or training; it can be through mentoring, as a mentor or mentee, or finding or becoming allies; or it can be by acknowledging differences that can not only make one unique, but also serve as a means to differentiate.

Since the initial co-founding WiBD team met in 2015, WiBD has grown to over 17,000 members and 41 chapters around the world. Our goal is by 2025 to have 50,000 members join us in our vision and mission to inspire, connect, learn, and lead. This year in 2022, Deborah Sgro, Global Mentoring Director, WiBD Advisory Board Member, launched our flagship mentoring program.

Our IWD celebration is an example of an event to #BreaktheBias. “Be the change you wish to see in the world” are inspiring words from Huma Abidi, Senior Director AI, Intel Corporation. Huma discussed how it is important to acknowledge unconscious biases along the entire data pipeline. Brad Burke, Chief Engineering and Data Office, American Family Insurance, talked about how allies can empower and #BreaktheBias by simply “handing over the pen”. In addition, Ambassador Elena Fedotova, Director WiBD EMEA Russia, talked about how “biases” are often mental shortcuts, and that we simply must take action. Ambassador Sowmya Moni, Co-Director of South Asia, India, also leading by example pledged “I’m the Solution. Join us to #Endbias”.

Our featured fireside chat was moderated by Shuchi Rana, WiBD Board Member. Audrey Cavenecia, Chief Content Officer and Podcast Producer at Amplify Voices touched on leadership, management, and culture topics such as Imposter-Syndrome Solutions, Why Caring Changies the Outcome of Performance, Everyday Well-Being: Sleep, Rest, and Renewal, Conflict De-Escalation Techniques, Microaggressions in the Workplace, Why Being Unprofessional is Trending, Empowering Your Team and the Great Resignation, Burnout, Overwhelm and Exhaustion, and Acknowledgement is a Superpower with your Teams. “Be consistent with your purpose,” is what she advises.  “Curiosity” can be a disruptor to bias, simply by asking questions; asking questions can open doors.

Julian Guthrie, Founder and CEO, Alphy, New York Times Best-Selling Author, discussed topics including Pay Disparities and Progress or Lack of, Career Pivots, Work-Life Balance, Future of Work for Women, Winning Mindset for Women, The Role of Women in Tech (AI, AR, Venture, etc.), and Burnout remedies.  She recommended that we can “redefine”: “Kindness is a strength, not a weakness.” You can join the Alphy by downloading Alphy for Apple or Android (use the  invite code wkwchcpvpi to sign up). Alphy and Women in Big Data are partnering to bring users  access to a new, by-invitation-only platform for advancing women and non-binary people.

To honor the IWD’22 theme #BreaktheBias – ask yourself how can you lead through inclusion and create unification.  How can you redefine and live your truth transparently to #Breakthe Bias?

Here is how YOU can join us to #Endbias and be part of the solution:

  • Share with a friend something new you learned today.
  • If you believe in the WiBD cause for gender quality and solidarity, join us (LinkedIn Group Forum: Women in Big Data) and become a member. Join a chapter  — or start a chapter.
  • Consider helping someone on their journey, or get guidance in your journey by finding a mentee or becoming a mentor. The WiBD New Mentoring Program Registration begins March, 2022. Apply now here.
  • Consider an optional WiBD tax-deductible donation of any amount, if you wish to give thanks to volunteer events such as this, or contribute our Mentoring Program, Leadership Development Program, or future AI Bootcamp. Donate to our cause.

To listen to this  event’s recording, click here.

To view presentation, click here.

 

WiBD Global Mentoring Initiative

by Deborah Sgro and Tina Tang

The Women in Big Data Board of Directors approved funding for the Global Mentoring Initiative at the quarterly meeting this past October. What follows is an interview between Tina Tang (Co-founder and chair for Women in Big Data) and Deborah Sgro (WiBD Global Mentoring Director).


TT: Deborah, what does it mean that the board of directors (BOD) approved funding for the mentoring initiative? What will it mean for the chapters?

DS: The approval for funding means the BOD is releasing the money to pay for the development of a worldwide mentoring initiative. With this “go ahead,” the  money will fortify chapter-led mentoring programs with technology-based tools and other shared resources making it easier for chapters to run mentoring programs.


TT: Why is WIBD investing in mentoring? What is our mentoring goal?

DS:  Mentoring is one of the many vehicles WiBD is using to achieve its goal “to cultivate tangible opportunities, unlock latent potential, act as a catalyst for advancement, and empower equity allies of any gender.” As for our 2022 mentoring goal, we will provide a commonly shared platform to serve 750-1000 worldwide participants (mentors and mentees).


TT: Can you describe this technology-based tool? What does it do and why do I as a regional or chapter lead need it? Do I have to get training?

DS:  This is a commercially available SaaS-based mentoring program management platform designed to meet the needs of non-profit organizations.

The WiBD Mentoring Platform will be managed by WiBD’s global Mentoring Workgroup, serving and supporting mentoring programs led by chapters. Mentoring Program Owners, who design and offer a mentoring program on behalf of a chapter or region, will use the mentoring platform for registration, matching, reporting, tracking, and other administrative features. The availability of these shared resources and features eliminates the need for every mentoring program to “reinvent the wheel” and frees up the Mentoring Program Owner’s time to focus on skill development activities.

Here are examples of the services and features the WiBD Mentoring Platform will offer:

  • Participants interested as either mentors or mentees will have access to all mentoring programs through a single registration, based on available seats.
  • Mentoring programs will be virtual and seamlessly available across chapters and regions, offering broader networking and development opportunities.
  • Suggestions for mentor/mentee matching will be offered based on the preferences and interests entered by the applicants. The final matching decision can be determined by the mentor, mentee, or the Mentoring Program Owner as determined by the design of each specific mentoring program.
  • Resources will be available for easy mentee goal setting and milestone tracking; a badge-earning system will highlight accomplishments.
  • Orientation and training materials will be shared among programs, allowing for quicker program launching and uniform excellence throughout.
  • A suite of pre-configured reports is available for tracking the results of each and all mentoring programs.

TT:  And how about training, what training will be needed?

DS: First, all participants will receive training on how to effectively use the Global Mentoring Platform software. Although this is a user-friendly, self-documented tool, there will be videos and/or other material available to answer “How To” questions.

Second, there will be role orientation for anyone participating in the program such as Mentoring Program Owners, Mentors and Mentees. Material will be provided guiding each participant in the steps and best practices of their particular role. Each Mentoring Program Owner will also have a “go-to” person, a Mentoring Admin from the Mentoring Workgroup, to help with any questions or concerns.

Now, just a word about a term I used, Mentoring Program Owner. A Mentoring Program Owner is a person from a chapter that designs a mentoring program and is responsible for creating and executing that program on the Global Mentoring Platform. Anyone interested in offering a mentoring program should contact their chapter/regional lead to discuss their idea. If the chapter confirms the offering is in alignment with the goals of the chapter, the Mentoring Program Owner would then coordinate implementation of their mentoring program on the Global Mentoring Platform with Global Mentoring Workgroup.


TT:  Is there any cost to the chapter or region launching a program, or is there any cost to mentees looking to participate in a program?

DS:  All costs of the globally provided tools are covered by the WiBD BOD. The Initiative is open to use free of charge by any chapter, region or member.


TT:  What is the status of the rollout for the Global Mentoring Initiatives?

DS:  The Mentoring Workgroup vetted and tested five mentoring platforms. Currently, we are checking references on the product that scored the highest in our evaluations. The final selection will be made in the coming weeks. The Mentoring Workgroup is also meeting with local chapters to plan what mentoring programs will be offered next year. By 1st quarter of 2022, the local chapters and the Global Mentoring Workgroup will publish a jointly created catalog of the mentoring program offerings, and work together to configure the Mentoring Platform to launch the first mentoring programs.


TT:  And who should a region or chapter lead contact if they are interested in offering a mentoring program?

DS:  That would be me. I can be reached at (deborah.sgro@womeninbigdata.org) and will happily work with any chapter or region looking to launch a mentoring program in 2022.

Who is Anjani Phuyal?

An Interview by Astha Sharma

Anjani Phuyal leads our Women in Big Data South Asia region. The region includes several strong chapters under Anjani’s leadership …. Anjani is also a member of our WiBD global executive committee.

Anjani Phuyal and Family

I sat down with Anjani to get to know him better and to introduce him to our global community – a true ally. Anjani is the Global CTO of Genese Solution, a multinational company with operations in seven different countries. He is the Founder of Girls in Tech-Nepal Chapter, South Asia Lead of Women in Big Data, APN (Amazon Partner Network) Ambassador, Microsoft Certified Trainer, and also a passionate Academic Facilitator.

Anjani is well recognized for partnering with prestigious brands like Zoom, Amazon Web Services, Facebook, and Google, and for serving customers.

He is also a husband and a father.

WiBD: Tell us about your career journey.
Before Genese, I used to be an Information Security Manager at Capital One Bank UK, worked as a Senior DevOps Engineer at Rackspace, and also worked as a Digital Transformation Consultant for UNDP.

In May 2018, I started my journey in Genese. I partnered with some major brands like Microsoft, Google, AWS, Facebook, Zoom, and so on. Now, I am influencing the world about cloud as Global CTO of Genese which has now become a multinational company.

WiBD: Do you have the advice to give to others who are thinking about a career in tech?Learning is the best weapon anyone could carry. Don’t limit your learning and exposure to what’s popular at the market. Try to drill down to what sector excites you and expand your horizon of knowledge, practice and constant evolvement. Keep learning, even if you get your dream degree and certificates. Just work hard and consistently on yourself to prepare as a globally competent professional.

WiBD: Can you tell us why you have been an ally and supporter of girls and women and help to elevate them?
It’s because the influence of women empowerment is not as strong as we hear or as it is seen. It deeply saddens me to see that females get fewer opportunities in comparison to males and are made to spend a dependent and discouraged life when any person can have skills, regardless of their gender. Most importantly, females have proven to be equally competent as males when it comes to leadership, managerial, operational, creative and technical abilities. I want to make equal space of opportunities for both genders. So, it’s great to have a gender balanced work environment that is not just productive but super fun too.

WiBD: How did you learn about Women in Big Data and what has been your engagement with the organization that led to leading a region now?
I am fascinated by a statement made by Charles Malik, “The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world.”

Technology, especially Data and AI is at the forefront of any nation. However, women are still underrepresented in this area, which has resulted in a lack of diversity in the innovative field.

I have always been a believer that bringing the perspective of both genders is very important to cover the entire user domain. In seeking to help contribute to advancing this diversity in the tech-driven industry, I was introduced to co-founders of Women in Big Data, with whom I share the desire to encourage and attract more female talent to the Big Data, AI & analytics field, and to help them connect, engage and grow.

As a Regional Lead of South Asia, my responsibilities includes expansion of WiBD Chapters in the Southeast Asia Region and to work with WiBD headquarters to disseminate opportunities for chapter members; I also participate in programming, global marketing campaigns via email, social media channels, etcl, by developing and executing strategic growth.

What motivates you?
Young minds who are so passionate and enthusiastic to change the world, their life, and their family, and that motivates me a lot. Especially those who are thriving even with very limited resources. Their energy seems like an unstoppable force. They just need proper guidance and support to convert that enthusiasm into impactful results.

When it comes to my self-motivation, whenever I feel low or lost, I just look back on my own journey so far, which has been like a roller-coaster ride—and totally worth it.

What bothers you?
When I see youths or the new generation with privileges and opportunities making no use of it, not believing in themselves and comparing their unique identity to social media faces, it bothers me a lot.

I had very few choices when I grew up, and I have seen what can come out from a caterpillar, which passionately wants to work on itself to get its wings of freedom as a butterfly. When I see youth with no purpose in life, no motivation to grow, who are dependent on what’s given to them, I feel like they are missing out a lot in creating their unique self, in changing the world.

Any fun facts about you?
I can travel weeks and months to a foreign land with a small backpack, which my family and friends think is totally crazy. I find it quite interesting that something which I am so used to and comfortable seems totally undoable to them.

Any Quotes or inspirations that you live by?
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And, there is no need to wait for a particular right time, right person or right environment to take that step. Just do it.

Anything else you would like to share?
There are times when my head gets filled with unstoppable thoughts about the abundance of opportunities in the market and in the nearby community. There is so much that can be done to create better times for our individual lives, our families, our companies and organizations, and the community we live in. If only we all could excel at balancing our time, energy, expertise, and process. And, I wonder if everyone would think the way I do

Arkangel AI

By Adriana Mata

Laura Velasquez Herrera

On October 20 2021, the Women in Big Data Costa Rica Chapter organized an event with Laura Velazquez, President and Cofounder of Arkangel AI and the first Latina woman to win the Global Everis Awards. The hour-long virtual event focused on highlighting recent developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence and how AI can be leveraged to improve healthcare.

During the session, Laura shared the motivation behind founding Arkangel AI. On seeing how one of her closest relatives was affected by the lack of timely healthcare support, Laura was motivated to create tools geared towards making healthcare more accessible. With this initial inspiration, she founded Arkangel AI in 2019.

The firm has successfully developed a state-of-the-art algorithm that detects diseases within seconds by integrating tools and methods from Artificial Intelligence into the clinical workflow. Incorporating AI components such as image processing to detect the signs and biomarkers of different medical conditions has improved responsiveness and disease detection coverage by at least five times and has made the entire screening process faster by 65%, whilst reducing cost and improving accessibility. Laura shared details of Arkangel AI’s roots and how undetected disease can lead to adverse effects. One of the objectives of the firm is to investigate diseases that could be distinguished proactively with the right amount of data, thereby speeding the diagnosis.

Arkangel AI is now used by Healthcare Professionals, Government Agencies, Private Institutions and Pharmaceutical Companies to create “Disease Detectors”, a platform to detect multiple health conditions. Additionally, the pandemic presented Arkangel AI with an opportunity to closely work with the Government of Colombia to develop free and open-source tools for providing healthcare resources and support to remote, rural areas with very limited access to hospitals and physicians. Currently, Arkangel AI has also collaborated with the research divisions of firms like Google, Novartis, and academic institutions including McGill University in Canada.

The session ended with Laura providing several insights on how Women in STEM should jump in and venture into different avenues with confidence. She highlighted the importance of having the right resources and mentors throughout one’s career. This was followed by a very interesting Q&A during which she shared her thoughts on topics including book recommendations, the latest tools in Data Science, and her mentorship journey so far.

Women in Big Data Costa Rica would like to extend its heartfelt thanks to Laura Velazquez and wish her success in all of her future endeavors.

About Laura Velasquez
President and Co-founder at Arkangel AI. A technology company that uses artificial intelligence to end the crisis of highly preventable diseases through early disease detection. She has international working experience working for large high-growth startups like Rappi and Netflix in NYC, Bogota, Santiago de Chile, Madrid, and Montreal. That allowed her to experience growth, leadership, and business intelligence to create digital transformation and impact globally. She has been the only woman and Latina in the history of the Global Everis Awards to win that award. Laura is a “Dream Maker” and believes in innovation as the primary source of change. This is what applies to her personal experience as well.

About Arkangel Ai:
-500K USD Total Funding Amount Equity free
-Powered by Google for Start-Ups Canada
-1st place at the international Everis Awards 2020
-Selected by Novartis as a key partner in the fight against Malaria worldwide
-Sponsored by McGill University, Nvidia, MaRS, and Concordia University

About the blog author Adriana Mata:
Adriana Mata has more than five years of experience in Shared Service Centers in Master Data, Finance and Taxes. She has developed her career migrating and stabilizing processes in different projects for North America and LATAM. Passionate student with a major in communication, defender of freedom of expression and gender equality.

2021 Bentley UXGA and WiBD Hackathon

By Riya Girish – WiBD Intern

This year, Bentley’s User Experience Graduate Association partnered with Women In Big Data (WiBD) to host their annual design hackathon, an event where teams compete to propose innovative solutions conducive to combating prominent obstacles within modern society. The objective of this year’s hackathon was to eliminate bias while increasing diversity among the Big Data and technology community. Teams could choose to approach specific challenges provided to fulfill the objective. This year, every team that participated brought remarkable ideas to the stage, some of which could genuinely amplify the global outreach of Big Data, while increasing inclusion within the field at the same time.

Hackathon Winners

2021’s Winning Hackathon team, team seven, consists of members Hilary M. Barr, Mirabel Awoniyi, Anna Nguyen and Vansham Sundrani, individuals with particularly novel proposals aimed towards developing diversity within Big data. The project they came up with in order to boost the membership base within Women in Big Data was an interactive data visualization installation along with social media, in order to spread awareness and encourage membership engagement. Specifically catered to bringing awareness to women about matters such as gender-based discrepancy within various industries, the visualization installation proposed is an interactive outlet with activities such as mind puzzles that could bring increased engagement and a peaked interest towards topics that Women in Big Data is passionate about helping. In providing students and other audiences with a more hands-on or personal connection to important issues, the likelihood of these interactors actively seeking out Women in Big Data is heightened.

Team seven’s second idea was a social media contest, in which millennials and social media users of younger generations could participate in an easy-to- access contest. The requirements were to follow Women in Big Data’s Instagram and interact with the platform, which is an easy way to introduce the organization to a large audience. The requirement for the contest could be something as simple as creating a 30-second reel for Women in Big Data’s Instagram, where the top three contestants could earn prizes, such as a scholarship. Although the proposal of a competition was common between various teams, this specific idea was unique in its simplicity and ethical application. Younger generations are much more active on social media and may be ready to jump at an opportunity that is both easy and beneficial to their future. In listening to their ideas, Women in Big Data loved that “The physical installation that highlights the disparities between women and men in the big data/tech field gets right to the heart of what WiBD is about and brings to the forefront why we think it is important to speak to this demographic of younger women. “

Additional unique propositions

Along with the phenomenal ideas introduced by team seven, many other proposals deserve recognition for their creativity. Team six introduced Connect, a virtual conference focused on building global relationships between those sharing similar interests pertaining to data science. Various other teams delivered proposals focused on creating an engaging environment through unique conferences. Team three offered a conference based on the fundamentals of spirit that encourages women to support gender equality, experience offering immersive experiences relating to big data, and practice where members can cooperate with companies to solve REAL WORLD Big Data tasks. These fundamentals would be applied through conferences based on interaction through Google cardboard, an affordable Virtual Reality tool that would make the Big Data learning experience that much more enjoyable and genuine. Team crusaders of Big Data proposed a decentralized approach with a creator hub similar to an educational social media format, in which interested participants can connect with mentors to stay engaged with Women in Big Data. Team four used Ikigai, the reason for being, the WHY, as the inspiration behind their idea. They proposed that diversity growth should be focused on “using passion as a lens to approach big data and analytics.” As Group four wisely said, “Stop learning data science to find purpose, and find purpose to learn data science”.

Why this matters

Although every team had unique proposals to address diversity within Big Data and technology, they all shared two clear focal points: A focus on engaging with younger audiences, and a focus on raising awareness about the need for more women in the future of big data science. Many of the ideas brought to the stage by teams in the hackathon can be utilized by Women in Big Data to further our goal of exposure and inclusion of anyone within data science. The 2021 hackathon provided insightful ideas for the future of Women in Big Data’s aspirations, and it was an incredible event to sponsor and contribute to.

 

The team behind UXGA Design Hackathon 2021: Many thanks Terez Lowry Jeffrey Villa Rebecca D’Agostine Kaydee Gilson Ankita Dutta Brian Yen Jason Gaylord Abhishek Kulkarni Revanth Krishna Walter Pultinas Cecilia Guadalupe Soto Navarro Zach Cohen

The full 2021 Hackathon Competition Video: https://youtu.be/rBunxYSHoQo 

Special thanks to Tina Tang and Sunanda Parthasarathy with Women in Big Data who supported the Hackathon, working closely with the UXGA Design Hackathon 2021 Team.  Also special thanks to Sora Chung and Neil Metzler for getting us engaged with the opportunity.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

By: Nompumelelo Simango
22 November 2021

 On the 21st of July, Women in Big Data released an advocacy report aptly titled The Data Revolution: Building the Workforce of the Future. Amongst the various topics that the report touches on is workforce bias in data-related fields and the steady decline in the number of women in computing occupations since 1991 when it peaked at 36% and quite arguably, one of the factors attributing to this decline is the Imposter Syndrome.

Michele Ruiters
Steffi Barandereka

Having run a poll on Instagram to see how many women had experienced imposter syndrome in the different professional spaces, the Women in Big Data South Africa Chapter recently hosted an online panel discussion with Dr. Michele Ruiters and Steffi Barandereka Nineza to unpack what exactly is the imposter syndrome, its impact and how can we overcome it.

Originally coined by Dr. Pauline Clance, a clinician at Oberlin College, Imposter Syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It is a narrative that is common amongst women because of the gendered nature of most professions and the organisations within which we find ourselves. Women are always made to feel apologetic for being in the room, for being part of the team and even for having an opinion.

Although it is an internal narrative, there are environmental triggers such gender, race, age, socio-economic background, and culture that lead to us experiencing moments of profound doubt about whether we belong at the tables where we find ourselves seated. There is also the physiological aspect, the fight or flight response when we enter spaces that are unfamiliar or unfriendly, spaces that make us feel unsafe and needing to get out. This response is also a breeding ground for Imposter Syndrome because we feel like we do not belong.

Sadly, Imposter Syndrome may lead to the development of a number of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression because we can feel the need to overcompensate by overworking ourselves and pushing ourselves to extremes. The impact of the syndrome is quite negative on our wellbeing, creating challenges in our growth as professionals and how we evolve in the spaces within which we find ourselves.

In building the workforce of the future, we must find ways to overcome Imposter Syndrome—ways that move past individuals simply affirming themselves positively. We must advocate for the creation of workplaces with gender equity, workplaces that give meaningful support to women through conscious leadership and an enabling environment.

We must be better allies for one another, using the allyship as a strategic mechanism to fight injustice and promote equity in the workplace; only then can we o revolutionise the participation of women in date-related fields.