Women in Big Data Global



Let’s Make the Line to the Ladies Room Longer

Women in Big Data

By Shala Arshi,

June 13, 2016


The Women in Big Data Luncheon at Spark Summit 2016 in San Francisco on June 8th was a success! Over 100 guests attended—including (surprisingly) a good number of men this time!

Despite initial challenges with the AV system, we managed to get going with a pure pink/purple color presentation to talk about our Women in Big Data initiative and to update attendees on our progress.

After the event crew got the AV system working (and all colors displaying properly), our first keynote speaker took the stage. I had the pleasure of introducing Dr. Crystal Valentine.

Crystal Valentine is a Big Data scientist and practitioner. She recently joined MapR as VP of Technology Strategy. Prior to MapR she was a tenure-track professor in the Department of Computer Science at Amherst College in Massachusetts, where she taught courses on Big Data, Principles of Database Design, and Computational Biology. She received her doctorate in Computer Science from Brown University.

Crystal’s talk was on “Does Gender Matter? Stories from the Tower and the Trenches”. You can find her presentation here. She shared interesting facts about the gender gap and why girls opt out of tech careers, especially starting in secondary school.

While at Amherst College, she studied and carried out experiments about ways to keep female students in computer science so that they graduate successfully. Her study dealt with understanding the barriers women face and methods for overcoming them.

Crystal mentioned that women not only bring a unique perspective  to technology and Big Data, but also have a few advantages—such as never waiting in a line for the ladies room in this male dominated field! (Isn’t it about time to make that line longer?)

Crystal speaks to the group

I also had the pleasure of introducing our second speaker, Yuliya Feldman, a Principal S/W Engineer at MapR, where she is responsible for security initiatives, development, currency and advancement of Open Source projects supported by MapR. She has over 20 years of software development experience in multiple companies, including seven years at eBay, and she been working with Hadoop for over seven years.

Yuliya’s talk was on “What is Open Source and Whether We Can Influence it”.

Yuliya’s philosophy on Open Source is simple:

  • If Open Source is good—we should join.
  • If Open Source is not so good—we should redouble our efforts to join.

Yuliya explained why so many open source projects are growing, and called out key points of interest. She also listed basic steps about how to get involved in Open Source projects, how to build community confidence in one’s work, and how to become an influential member of the community.

Her presentation, which elicited great questions and strong engagement from the audience, is available here.

All in all, it was a great event. Looking ahead, please don’t forget:

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