Women in Data Science Datathon a big success

On the first weekend in February, the Institute of Data Science hosted the 1st Women in Data Science (WiDS) Datathon. WiDS Datathon is a data-focused hackathon which invites students and faculty members from all backgrounds as well as practitioners from industry and government to participate in a global challenge.

We demanded to have at least 50% female participants as well as gender-balanced teams and ended up with roughly 75% females among our 40 participants. Attracting people from five different faculties to join is a huge success. Since the challenge for the WiDS Datahon 2020 focuses on healthcare data, we had many participants from the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life sciences (FHML) as well as the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience (FPN). They could bring valuable domain knowledge which matched nicely with the data science and analytics skills of participants from the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) as well as the School of Business and Economics (SBE).

The goal of Women in Data Science

The goal of WiDS is to inspire and educate data scientists worldwide, regardless of gender, and to support women in the field. Since the Institute of Data Science at UM supports this mission of promoting STEM careers for women, Visara Urovi and Amrapali Zaveri initiated to host a conference at UM, which will take place on 5th March. They asked Chang Sun, a PhD student at IDS, and Hannah Schmitt, a PhD student at SBE, to bring the preceding datathon to life. The two young women started planning towards the end of 2019 and are very happy with the result and all the great feedback they received for hosting this event.

During the closing speech of the weekend, all teams were encouraged to continue working on the data challenge and to upload their improved model until the global deadline on 24th February. After this deadline, the organizers will check the model accuracy scores of all Maastricht teams again and determine the local winner of the WiDS Datathon 2020. The prize will be awarded to the winning team at the WiDS conference in Maastricht on March 5th.

We received much positive feedback and appreciation from the participants via emails and feedback forms. They were very enthusiastic about such hackathons being hosted in Maastricht and about making these events open to people of all data science skills levels, and thus also making it a great learning experience for everyone.

We are already looking forward to the WiDS Datathon 2021! If you are interested in joining the organising team, please contact Chang Sun and Hannah Schmitt. If you want to get further events notifications and newsletters from us (IDS), please send an email to: info-ids@maastrichtuniversity.nl.

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