Strata Data Conference 2017 NYC/WiBD Luncheon Recap

On Wednesday September 27th, 2017, the Women in Big Data New York City Chapter teamed up with the Strata Data Conference to host the Women in Big Data Luncheon. The luncheon, held at the Javitz Center in Manhattan and sponsored by Intel and Cloudera, was well attended with over 250 participants.

Debika Sharma, Director at MapR and Women in Big Data Chapter Director for NY, highlighted the vision of the Women in Big Data organization: to inspire, connect, foster and champion the success of women in fields related to big data. Her opening remarks, which touched on the declining participation of women in STEM related fields, emphasized the importance of providing women with 1) a forum to openly explore training in emerging technology areas, 2) access to mentorship for women at all stages in their careers, and 3) meaningful networking opportunities. Through monthly and quarterly events, the WiBD NY chapter focus on delivering these opportunities to facilitate impactful career progressions for NY area participants. Click here for additional information on WiBD NY events.

L. to R.: Karen Mathys, Debika Sharma, Dr Rebecca Bilbro, Suzanne Axtell

Next, Radhika Rangarajan, Director of Big Data solutions at Intel, and a founding member of WiBD, recognized the remarkable expansion of the organization, growing from just 15 members in 2015 to over 2500 members in 2017.  She also pointed out that Intel had internally established a goal of reaching representation parity for women by 2020, which they are expected now to reach (two years ahead of schedule) by 2018.

Recognition for WiBD from Intel Corporation, awarded July 2017.

The luncheon also hosted speakers from the Institute for Computational & Mathematical Engineering (ICME) at Stanford University. Karen Mathys, Executive Director for External Partners at the ICME,  echoed the challenge of recruiting and retaining women in fields related to data science and shared steps that the Women in Data Science organization (WiDS) is taking to effectively inspire, support and educate individuals interesting in pursuing careers in these fields. Karen, along with Judith Logan, Marketing Manager at the ICME, spent time speaking with luncheon attendees about programs at the ICME and the upcoming WiDS conference. The Global WiDS conference will be held on March 5th, 2018 at Stanford University and over 80 locations worldwide via livestream. Click here to download Karen’s presentation. Additional information can be found here.

The keynote speaker at the event was Dr. Rebecca Bilbro.  Dr. Bilbro is a lead Data Scientist at Bytecubed, where she and her team use machine learning and Python to build custom data solutions for commercial and government clients. Dr. Bilbro is also an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University, an emeritus board member of Data Community DC, and co-author of the book Applied Text Analysis with Python (O’Reilly). As partner in District Data Labs, a DC-based open source collaborative, she enjoys collaborating with local developers on inclusive, high impact open source software projects (e.g. Scikit-Yellowbrick). Dr. Bilbro earned her doctorate from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where her research centered on communication and visualization practices in engineering.

Br.Bilbro’s focused on techniques for natural language processing and machine learning as the next frontier in big data. Her talk provided a practical approach to text analysis and its real-world applications. Her presentation highlighted the special efforts required to translate raw text and audio into valuable information. Natural language, unlike strict rule-based formal languages, is contextual, constantly evolving, and often unpredictable. The problem space calls for flexible algorithms that can learn patterns from examples and make predictions about new data. With machine learning algorithms and natural language processing tools becoming more widely available than ever, putting the pieces together to transform a raw text corpus into a data product delivers real business value. Click here to link to Dr. Bilbro’s slides.

Thanks to all who attended, and stay tuned for more great presentations from WiBD in the future.

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