The Women in Big Data (WiBD) forum made an official debut in Europe in early November during the Apache Big Data Conference in Seville, Spain. Tina Rosario (Global VP, Enterprise Data Management, SAP) and Marina Alekseeva (GM, Director of Software Product Services, Intel) shared their stories, talked about career paths and opportunities, and emphasized the importance of having strong female voices in information technology in general and in Big Data and Analytics in particular. About 40 people attended, or roughly 10 percent of the total audience of the Apache Big Data conference.
Anna Marchon opened the session on behalf of WiBD with an overview of the history, purpose and rapid growth of the Women in Big Data forum, framing the discussion by illustrating the gap between low representation of women in STEM on one hand, and the increasing shortage of skilled labor on the other hand.
Tina Rosario continued with the first key note, speaking emphatically about the subtle matters of online reputation, building credibility and trust with customers, processing data and connecting the dots in ways that do not come in conflict with basic values. She pointed out that many women have a natural ability to interpret and resolve complex social contexts, and therefore having women on decision-making committees is a critical success factor when it comes to matters of online identity, privacy, ownership, and reputation. As an executive, Tina is a strong advocate for women’s growth at SAP and believes that the information technology sector offers numerous opportunities and support for women as they develop their careers and find the right work-life balance.
Marina Alekseeva closed the event with the second key note, describing the challenges of being different and the journey to realization that women in STEM should stop trying to fit in, but instead focus on being themselves and building the courage to go after challenging professional roles they will enjoy. Marina gave excellent examples of ways to avoid the trap of imposing negative stereotypes upon ourselves, including practical tips on learning from mistakes and moving on, and she highlighted the importance of building each other up as we grow the community of successful women in technology. One of the young Americans in the audience was extremely touched by Marina’s personal story of pursuing a demanding degree in Math at one of the top universities in the Soviet Russia, and successfully overcoming challenges to craft a balance between her outstanding career and personal life.
During the session, we received a lot of encouragement and positive feedback, as well as many questions about next steps and plans for expanding the WiBD forum across and around Europe, as well as in India.
All in all, it was a successful first WiBD event in EMEA and we are hoping more will follow. We want to express our gratitude to the Linux Foundation event planners Megan Phillips and Jillian Hall, who gracefully took care of all the arrangements.
For more, please see this online article, which includes a video interview with Tina Rosario.