Women in Big Data Global



#WiBDSA – From Fibre Cable to Careers in Big Data

Women in Big Data

By Johanna Thathaisa,

November 1, 2019


31 October 2019

Women in Big Data has certainly been painting the city red amongst the many events in 2019; in our efforts to advance our mission to drive inclusion of women in the Tech industry, here is an insight of what we have been up to in the last two months.

Johanna Thathaisa – Training Lead

In September, we co-hosted an event with Vumatel; a leading supplier of open access fibre cable installations to homes. This event was centered around bringing professional women from different fields, to enlighten them about the world of AI. Naomi Molefe, our chapter lead, kicked off the meet-up by sharing some light on what WiBD is all about and how we plan on advancing our mission in SA. Johanna Thathaisa, our training lead, gave a talk on Deep Learning breakthroughs and their impact on Business Revenues; as a practical example, she talked about chatbots and how they are used to efficiently cater to the customer. From the audience engagement, one could gather that the talk was well received and brought more awareness on the impact AI is making in business.  

African machine translation by Laura Martinus

Laura Martinus, a Data Scientist, took us through Machine Learning techniques in language translation and their application to business. She shared the work that she has been doing in African machine language translation with Jane Abott, which has been published in journal articles and presented at NeurLPS2018. It was inspiring to see the ladies be so interactive and acknowledging that the event sparked something in them to investigate further for themselves and their careers.

In October, WiBD  had the pleasure to be invited by Nielsen Africa as one of the exhibitors in the STEM career expo, an event aimed to inform students about opportunities in STEM careers. Over 10,000 high school and university students showed up; it gave them the opportunity to engage and learn about career opportunities in different businesses, while companies also got to see the young talent in South Africa.  

Students at STEM conference & career expo


In addition, there was an insightful panel discussion to close out the event, where the Senior leaders at Nielsen and our chapter led a discussion some of the trends around Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning in today’s world of work. It was a perfect audience to highlight the need for more Africans to be attentive and more involved in STEM, as it will shape the type of results and eventually enhance how Africans interact with different systems.