Words of Wisdom from the Women in Analytics Conference

When I first got wind of Facebook’s Women in Analytics Conference a couple of months ago, I got really excited. I had already made plans to attend Data Council (formerly DataEngConf) in SF that week, so extending the stay made this a much more affordable marginal expense. This was the first event I’d ever heard specifically for women in data. While I’m really proud of my success in building an extensive professional network through the internet, it is certainly not a diverse network. I’ve tried to do more- like going out of my way to make sure I’m following more diverse voices on Twitter and in my RSS feed- but my network is a representation of the realities of data as an industry.

I’m not sure how I stumbled on the application for the conference (I think I applied back in December?), but I’m so glad I did.

Conference organizers Nell Thomas and Jenni Romanek opened up the event by reminding the audience of roughly 600 with their motivation:

  • Representation matters
  • Learning matters
  • Networking matters

Panel Discussion

  • “When I started my career, I felt like I was a failure already, I was doing something wrong.” -Yuko Yamakazi
  • “If you’re going into a meeting, make sure you have at least 1 thing to say. If you don’t have anything to say, there’s no point to being in that meeting anyway.” - Amy Sample
  • “Don’t get distracted by all the new research, the new things coming out- stay focused on your goals: building data products and shipping.” - Omoju Miller
  • Work Life Balance
    • Doesn’t happen in any given day, but happens over the ebb and flow of weeks (very similar to Laura Vanderkam’s framing!)
    • Work you need to be doing is important enough
    • The Life can still enrich your work
    • Completely disconnecting when disconnecting
  • Success is Analytics
    • Curious & inquisitive, Technical only sometimes a requirement
    • higher up in leadership roles, the less time you’ll be doing math
    • emphasize storytelling in delivering
    • impact analytics- analytics along is not enough
  • Community
    • connecting
    • elevating the work of other women
  • Next hardest problems
    • inclusion- not just women but serving women of color
    • more female founded companies

Lightning Talks

Angela Song

  • Careers are not tracks, they’re jungle gyms
  • Winners want the ball
  • Winners bounce back from defeat
  • “We cannot connect the docs looking forward, we can only connect them looking back.”
  • Winning is staying in the game

Jennifer Prendki

  • Cynics at work
  • You have to clean up your data before you use it
  • Alectio: Sustainable Machine Learning
  • Lead the way until it hurts

Hilary Parker:

  • import, tidy, (explore, model, visualize), communicate
  • design way of thinking
  • building a whole system
  • Design science and art form an “and” not an “or” relationship to created the incredibly human cognitive ability - Nigel Cross
  • deductive thinking - solving a problem
  • design thinking - iterating through an idea

Fireside Chat

  • realistic expectations of what mentorship is
  • only do what needs to be done
  • do it a little bit worse and a little bit faster

Breakout Sessions

Data Governance:

  • The Panopticon - system of control designed
  • Bit by Bit
  • evidon.com/solutions/trackermap
  • Data governance is ethics at schale
  • Principled decision making
  • Minimize data being collected
  • Tech is advancing faster than laws
  • Principles to shape data governance
    • Respect
    • Thoughtful consideration
    • Trasnparency
  • How comfortable would you be documenting your data practices on the front page of the New York Times?

Ethics of Engineering:

  • Culture has celebrated “innovation” coming out of white men
  • Ford Pinto

I learned so much at the WiA Conference at Facebook earlier this year. While I don’t condone Facebook’s data practices in many ways, it was generous of the organization to lend it’s leaders and financial support to the event. I hope it happens again!