Hello, fellas. Cool down, I’m not going to talk about extreme feminism and gender (in)equality. 🙂 This post is going to be about extraordinary women I had a chance to meet at the Women in Data Science conference, held in Subotica, this April. I truly believe that these girls deserve to be heard of, as well as many others, so this is only the beginning. 🙂 As I mentioned before, the list of inspiring people with great influence on me is just getting longer and longer, and I will keep you updated. 🙂

The Woman in Data Science is initiative that finds its origins at Stanford University, Institute for Computational & Mathematical Engineering. With the idea to inspire, educate and support, they gather enthusiasts, academics and leaders with one main goal – to establish a baseline for all women willing to enter the field of Data Science and have the influence to make a change. The first conference was held back in 2015, at Stanford, and from then, it has grown to be a global conference with more than 150 regional events, including the one held in Subotica. I cannot express the gratitude and the pleasure I had to be there and meet all these great women!

The conference was organized as a one-day event, located in InfostudHub. The introductory talk was given by Tatjana Kecojevic, who had a major role in the whole initiative and organization of the event. Tatjana has a strong theoretical and technical background in the field of Data Science, regarding statistics and R. As a founder of  R-ladies Manchester and co-organizer of R-Ladies Belgrade and R-Ladies Montenegro, she has shown a great initiative to empower and support all data science enthusiasts, especially women. She really is an expert in this field, and if you’d like to find more, check out her GutHub page, there is a lot that can be learnt from it! And yes, the site of the conference was made in R! 😉

Olivera was the first speaker introduced to participants. Olivera Grljević is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Economics in Subotica. With many years of experience in the field of research and Data Science, especially text analysis, she was talking about the current situation at universities, focusing on the University of Novi Sad, regarding the initiatives and ongoing projects.

Katica Ristić is someone I knew from LinkedIn, and as soon as she entered the room, I knew who she was. Her enthusiasm is hard to ignore. Katica was talking about the mystique world of Data Science, and her incredible path from being a mathematician and a teacher, to being an applied mathematician and a Data Scientist. She tried to explain her learning process and present a course she is currently enrolled in.

Bojana Milašinović is a young woman with great initiative to empower other women to enter the world of IT. I had the opportunity to meet her last year, at the ENTER conference. She was talking about her transition from the culture and art, to the IT. This is important especially in the field of Data Science, where the transitions could be various, and can come from multiple areas of science and research. Many women are afraid of taking that transition and facing a strong barrier regarding that switch, thus her example is a great inspiration for everyone willing to make a change.

Katarina Kosmina is someone recognized and affirmed by the community, as an inspiring activist, researcher and coordinator involved in multiple projects regarding the digital transformation, open data and education. If you ever visited some meetup, hackathon or other form of community event if the field of Data Science, the chances are that you’ve met her. 🙂

Having a PhD in mathematics, several years of academical experience at the University of Novi Sad, as well as in industry,  Milena Kresoja is dealing with serious advanced analytics projects, regarding the financial analysis and services. She is currently working on a platform for quantitative financial analysis, where her main focus is outlier analysis in financial time series.

Professor Nadica Miljković is someone I haven’t had a chance to meet in person, yet. But, can’t wait to do  that! 🙂 Her main focus of research is related to biomedical engineering, and she has multiple successful and interesting projects regarding the biosignal processing. She is also one of the organizers of R-Ladies meetup in Belgrade. Nadica was a moderator during the panel that I had a chance to participate in, as well.

All these great and successful women that I previously mentioned left a strong impression on me, and I believe, will leave a huge mark on my career as well. They all are extraordinarily modest, kind and supportive. They are experts and experienced leaders in their niches. And I was really surprised and delighted to see that there is something serious going on in the field of Data Science outside Belgrade! 🙂 At the discussion we had, we concluded that women need empowerment. From another women and the community itself. Not because of the existence of active discrimination. But because not everybody is brave enough to stand out. And this is a delicate problem with complex factors. There are lots of things that need to be changed, from the raising during the childhood, through education at schools and universities, to activities in the community. And that is what we really need, especially in Data Science. We desperately need variety and diversity. And we need to encourage it. Not only regarding the gender, but the age, ethnicity, disciplinarity, and lots more.

The conference has a major message, including the answer to the question – what is the first step? The first step is to educate yourself and to find the path you want to follow. And to be persistent. And the task for the community should be to provide all the necessities you need in order to do that. As a community, we need to establish a baseline for sustainable development and growth. Sharing is caring, and sharing the knowledge makes it grow bigger and bigger. Empowering diversity ensures multiple perspectives and awakens critical thinking, which leads to rational reasoning and objective conclusions. Let’s be responsible and compassionate. Great conference, great people, can’t wait to go back there! 🙂

Down below, you may find myself enjoying the conference. 🙂 Cheers!