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Margot Gerritsen: Inspiring, connecting, and educating women in data science

Well, welcome. It’s just fantastic to
have you here today. I may look a little bit
different than on the video, but I’m Margot Gerritsen and
the Director of ICME. And not just welcome to the 350
people attending here today Including 16 speakers and
moderators of breakout sessions and so on. But also everybody joining
us on the live stream. We have just a tremendous number
of events around the world. This is our second WiDS. Our first WiDS wasn’t really global. We just had our conference here and
we were live streaming. But the response to that live stream was
already so overwhelming that we decided that we would try to set up regional
events around the world, and get more people involved. And we thought at the time,
about a year ago, that if we got 25 events around the world,
it would be amazing success. And now we have over 80. We just heard this morning that
the WiDS event for example [LAUGH]>>[APPLAUSE]>>Right, the WiDS event in Beirut, the American university there,
attracted 600 people. So this has become such an incredible, energetic, almost like a movement. We’ll have shout-outs throughout the day, to people at various live streaming
events, or various satellite events all around the world,
in Europe, in Asia, in South America. We even tried to get some people
in Antarctica to watch us.>>[LAUGH]
>>And we did contact researchers at Ross
research station, but unfortunately, their bandwidth is not
really up to live streaming. But we’re hoping that they will tweet us.>>[LAUGH]
>>[LAUGH] Anyway I will be emceeing today as well there’s just a couple of things
I wanted to ask you to make this a great event here throughout the day. We’ll have Q and A’s so you’ll have
the opportunity to ask questions. But we’ll ask you to please
just ask one question. I know you’re very excited, but one question per person would
be great per Q and A session. We’ll also be running strictly on time. Because of the live streaming
events around the world, we cannot afford to be late. So I apologize in advance if, from time
to time, I have to cut somebody off. Really sorry about that, but
that’s the way it’s going to be. We also have one change in the program. You saw Maria Klawe, the president
of Harvey Mudd in the intro video. Terrific, terrific contributor
to women in engineering and computer science and data science. Unfortunately, she’s home with the flu and
it was just too tough for her to come out. So big shout out to her,
hopefully she’s following our live stream. And instead, we will have
a fireside chat immediately after these remarks with Lori Sherer
from Bain and Company and Caitlin Smallwood from Netflix, which is
also gonna be tremendous fun I’m sure. We have a few artists around today,
as well. We have Liza Donnelly from
The New Yorker doing live drawing. So if you want your face to be drawn,
she’s sitting right here. We have a painter as well today,
Pamela Davis. We have a couple of photographers. So there’s plenty opportunity for
you to be taken pictures of. We also will want to ask you to take
lots of pictures yourself to tweet. Right on the front of your program,
there is our Twitter handle. Please tweet as much as you like,
we’d like to trend on Twitter, so let’s try to make that happen. Now why WiDS? Now we have 16 fantastic speakers
today who are going to be highlighting the growing importance of these really
exciting field of data science. And they will talk about all sorts
of applications of data science and theoretical developments. And you will see that data science
is penetrating everything. Now today is a technical conference,
so we’re aimed to educate you and for you to leave this room wiser and know more
about data science than you did before. So all these speakers, what they have in
common is that they’re very established. They’re very,
they’re at the frontier of data science. The other thing they have in common is
that they all women, all 16 of them. And sometimes,
when people talk to me about this Women in Data Science Conference,
they ask me, now, why, why women? Well, when we asked the opposite question,
why only men at conferences? Often I get to hear, well, Margot, we
really tried to find a female speaker but you couldn’t make it, so
we just couldn’t find any.>>[LAUGH]
>>And so when people ask me, why only women? I say, we really tried to
find male speakers, but->>[LAUGH]>>You know John couldn’t make it, so.>>[APPLAUSE]
>>All right [LAUGH]>>[APPLAUSE]>>But seriously, do you know that the number of
women in this field is too low. We want more woman in the field for
all sort of different reasons. First of all,
women provide an incredible talent pool. Now women are just as
talented as men to do this. They just have as much
ability as men to do this. And we should step into that pool and
encourage women to start in this field, to stay in this field, and to be confident
that they can make great contributions. And what better than to show you 16 and why even more in the breakout session,
amazing role models. So this conference is
also about inspiring you. The other thing is data science
has become so important, lots of decisions are made
by data science teams. We want those teams to be
representative of our population. Now we need women in those teams,
we need under represented minorities. So inspiration is a great purpose here. And then of course the third reason why
we have WiDS is for you to connect. So use the breakout sessions,
the lunch time, the coffee breaks to connect
with each other here. Use social media to connect
with women elsewhere. So inspire, connect, and educate,
those are the three main themes of today. Now, we’re so excited about WIDS 2017
that we’re already planning ahead for WiDS 2018. And that’s going to be February 1st. And so I just wanted to say save the date. And the other reason why I bring it up,
even though we haven’t started yet. [LAUGH] I’m going to assume everything
will go well today, [LAUGH] so that we will have WiDS 2018. But the other reason is because we’d
love your ideas on how to make this even bigger and better. Obviously, we’re gonna go for
many more events around the world. We’re thinking about attaching
a hackathon to it and we will have other events throughout the year leading up
to this to keep the community going. Hey, we could be
a professional organization. We already have a logo. We have a website. We have a Twitter handle, so
I think that’s all we need. So enjoy this conference. I hope you’ll be inspired,
I hope you’ll connect and I hope you’ll be very well
educated by the end of the day.

Reynold King

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