The Women in Analytics Conference is one of the largest scientifically-oriented conferences operating in the United States to date. In 2019, the event sold-out to attendees from all around the world.
WIA plans to exceed those numbers in 2020 with the arrival of professionally driven data scientists dedicated to the betterment of their positions and knowledge within scientific and data-focused industries.
Who are these attendees, though, and what, specifically, about the conference encourages them to flock to it from all around the world?
The Women in Analytics Conference was founded by Rehgan Avon in 2016. Avon hails from The Ohio State University where she launched the Big Data and Analytics Association (BDAA) for students. Avon’s own experience within her field and position drove her to seek out a community of women seeking support while operating in male-dominated industries.
She was able to gather a coalition of other women in similar positions, including Lauren Burke and Katie Sasso-Schafer, to bring the Women in Analytics Conference to life.
Since the conference’s inception, the team has invited a vast number of influential professionals to the conference floor, including speakers from Figure Eight and Microsoft. These women are also joined by peers in the academic community, including representatives from the University of Cincinnati and Stanford.
While titled the “Women in Analytics” Conference, the event is open to attendees of all genders. The speaker lineup, however, is dedicated to women (using an inclusive definition of women and welcoming gender minorities).
The Women in Analytics Conference agenda includes hands-on workshops that attendees can participate in to learn directly from experts and talks where they can hear about the projects and work of other professionals in their industries.
Individuals in every stage of their career - from the undergrad student to the seasoned professional - come to Columbus, Ohio to attend the three-day conference on a yearly basis. Whether they join the community in-person for the conference or watch conference talks via YouTube after the fact, they’re able to curate connections with fellow professionals in the greater data and analytics community.
This platforming scope gives the attendees, be they digitally or personally present, greater opportunity to learn more about the following industries and topics:
One aspect that makes the WIA Conference unique is the array of benefits it offers to participating speakers.
Typically, newer practitioners are overlooked for speaker opportunities at larger conferences. Unfortunately, this often also means that women are more overlooked - simply due to the fact there are fewer women at the SVP and C-level.
The WIA Conference provides its speakers with not just experience, but support throughout the process. Each presenter has the opportunity to take advantage of free professional speaker coaching and gains a professionally recorded video of their talk after the event.
Benefits of Speaking at WIA include the following:
With all that in mind, it may seem straightforward to segment the Women in Analytics Conference’s target audience. Roughly half of the conference’s attendees are analytical professionals. These women and men are data scientists and engineers. They work in the computer sciences, in mathematics, in data assessment, and even in social media.
Roughly another third of the attendees are academics who are looking to build their skills, teach others new findings in the study of analytics, and grow their understanding of real-world applications of data.
That final twelve percent of attendees is primarily made up of students. Students can take a number of lessons from a conference like this one, but there are two that immediately come to find.
Firstly, students who are on the verge of graduating can utilize the Women in Analytics Conference to network and build connections for next steps after college and graduate school. The round tables and workshops allow ambitious students to connect with industry leaders and take a step into the doors of different businesses, and the 2020 conference will include a career fair.
Secondly, the Women in Analytics Conference encourages students to continue pursuing the work that interests them. It remains especially difficult for women operating in scientific fields not to succumb to feelings of isolation. Women even report feeling driven out of these male-dominated fields due to their gender. When they have the opportunity to bond, though, Women in Analytics can be a safe space in which to operate and learn from other women in their fields.
In short, the faculty and industry professionals offer that final student percentage examples to look up to and a community to embrace.
It is the potential for community, in fact, that drives the Women in Analytics Conference. Upon its inception, Avon outlined the conference’s primary goals:
Avon, her peers, and the Women in Analytics Conference pull women speakers from a variety of professional and academic communities together with the goal of creating a powerful, well-rounded, and interesting speakers bureau.
Anyone who has attend the conference--be they active engineers or analytics students--will gain a network of others in the industry, learn about important topics of conversation in the field, and have a chance to showcase their work.