On September 10, the Women in Big Data team in Russia had the first meetup in Moscow hosted by Google. This event was special and long-awaited for us, as it started the Moscow chapter of Women in Big Data community.
Warm greetings, an exciting excursion around the Google office, welcome coffee and snacks, accompanied by jazz melodies, created a friendly and relaxed atmosphere for networking. Elena Fedotova, the WiBD Russia chapter lead, opened the meetup and introduced the WiBD team and the keynote speakers, Tina Rosario, SAP Chief Data Officer for Europe and Women in Big Data EMEA President, and Marina Alekseeva, Intel Russia Vice-President and WiBD EMEA training committee leader.
Then Tina presented an overview, mission and goals of WiBD and a summary on the community activities and growth in Europe. She also emphasized the importance of data in our life.
Tina was followed by Marina, who shared the statistics and highlighted potential reasons for the scarcity of female employees in IT, especially in the high positions. For example, men and women treat high-graded jobs differently: men usually are more self-confident and ready to apply even if they are not 100% fit for a job description, while women in such situations tend to search for a 100% match. This may partially explain the small number of female managers, presidents, CEOs, etc.
After a dinner break, we continued with a panel talk moderated by Elena Fedotova. Ekaterina Vinnichenko, Community manager at Google and head of Women Tech Makers in Russia, and Zviad Kardava, Developer Relations manager at Google, joined Tina Rosario and Marina Alekseeva to discuss how to attract more female talent to IT. Elena shared sad statistics reflecting how the percentage of women in STEM decreases with their age. Both boys and girls are successful with technical subjects in primary school. but as they grow older, girls lose interest and prefer non-technical subjects. Why is this trend so stable? What can business and communities do to retain girls and women in tech areas? It was a productive and engaging discussion, where meetup guests with different professional backgrounds and experience shared their thoughts on the obstacles women face in IT and how communities can help them to cope with it. For example, in some geographies of the Russian Federation, young women choose their career following local traditions and social expectations (healthcare, housekeeping, teaching). In such places, for women who decide to work in STEM, it takes a lot of effort to overcome stereotypes. The most remarkable and touching part of this talk was a confession from the panelists about why supporting such communities as WiBD is important to them. Some of the panelists take this initiative personally because they, their relatives or friends experienced gender inequity in STEM, which proved to them the need for communities that help women in STEM.
After the panel talk, we had a chance to hear about successful careers in Data Science and IT from Maria Arkhipova, head of SAP CIS Financial Industry Expertise Center, and Anna Petrovicheva, Xperience.ai CEO. Maria delivered an inspiring presentation about her career at SAP and shared advice for work-life balance. Anna provided a deep tech talk on the tasks she solves at Xperience.ai and gave an overview of neural networks trends, illustrated with fascinating examples and demos.
All in all, the event was full of versatile content, productive discussions and networking opportunities. Thank you all, speakers and guests, for being a part of this great evening! Many thanks to Google for hosting WiBD! It was an excellent start for the Moscow chapter, and we hope to grow and have many successful events in the future.
By Elena Plankina, Nizhny Novgorod WiBD chapter