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How one conference is changing the landscape for women in data science in Israel

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With recent headlines focusing on ‌tech hiring sprees and lack of representation of minority populations, a study by inclusivity advocate Power in Diversity Israel looked at over 400 startups and 70 venture capital firms in Israel. The study found that women are often under-represented in the country’s tech field. 

The Women in Data Science (WiDS) conference showcases diverse representation in technology. WiDS started as a one-day technical conference at Stanford in November 2015 to offer women in data science a chance to recognize their social, economic, cultural and political achievements. Today, WiDS is a worldwide movement with more than 200+ regional events in more than 60 countries, reaching 100,000 participants annually, complemented by a series of year-round initiatives.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, data scientists from around Israel will gather on March 7, 2022, for presentations, workshops, and networking at the WiDS TLV conference to unite Israel’s community of technologists. The local conference, which is sponsored by Intuit Israel, is driven by Intuit employees and Global WiDS Ambassadors Noah Eyal Altman, a staff data scientist, and Or Basson, a senior data scientist. Both are WiDS veterans who recognized the conference’s potential years ago.

“During my PhD studies, I attended numerous conferences where all speakers were male. With WiDS, I was inspired to see so many smart and professional women on stage,” said Noah. “WiDS not only enables the Israeli data science community to stay connected but they become part of a global movement to increase the diversity of women in tech.”

Or began her journey with WiDS shortly after joining Intuit. “Being surrounded by so many talented women felt so honorable. By being a WiDS TLV ambassador, I have the chance to encourage other women to shine and stand out in the field,” said Or.  

WiDS TLV was first launched in Israel in 2018 by WiDS ambassador and Intuit Israel Data Science Group Manager Shir Meir Lador. In its first year, WiDS TLV received 22 applications from women in the field of data science interested in speaking at the conference. In the second year, that figure rose to 50 applications. This year, over 100 applications have been received.“WiDS is a refreshing, high-quality and interesting conference that gives exposure to all the most interesting areas in data science,” said Noa Lubin, machine learning team lead at Diagnostic Robotics, a former WiDS speaker.

Since its debut, the WiDS TLV conference has grown into a thriving community that includes over 1,400 members. Its members often connect as part of a WiDS tech meetup series and online forums. The WiDS community offers its members a bouncing board for sharing questions and challenges. This year, the community also added mentoring opportunities. “I shared a real life work problem and got great insights and different points of views from the participants,” said Dana Averbuch, head of data science at Pick A Pier, a former WiDS TLV speaker.

With tech companies continuing to come up with creative ways to attract talent, and with more focus being placed on underrepresented groups, the WiDS Tel Aviv conference is just one way to help set the stage for a more inclusive, equal world. 

Over 30% of our Intuit tech workforce are women and if you attend local women in tech events, you’ll probably encounter at least one woman from the Intuit Israel site, said Or. “And that’s refreshing to see in the Israeli high-tech world.” 

This year’s WiDS TLV conference, which is open to all genders, will take place on March 7 at the Sheva conference center in Tel Aviv.  To register to attend the conference, visit the WiDS TLV website.

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