Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Stanford Women in Data Science (#WiDS2018) at the American University of Beirut where I presented on one of my favorite topics, “Humanizing Analytics; Putting Society at the Center of AI Innovation“. Attending this event was a great experience both personally and professionally.
On a professional level, the event was a great opportunity to meet with a diverse cross-section of technologists and data scientists from the region and to get to hear their perspectives on the challenges that face our industry, specifically as it pertains to female participation. The event was extremely well organized and structured in such a way to give lots of opportunity for conversation, with the inspiring talks contributing to passionate discussion. I was also lucky enough to join a round table, hosted by Dr. Dima Jamali who is representative of the Global Compact Network Lebanon (GCNL), to discuss the role of data science in furthering progress of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was fascinating to engage with a broad cross-section of interested parties to explore this intersection of technology, data, analytics, and global development.
On a personal level, this trip to Lebanon resulted in so many great memories that will stay with me a long time. I have to confess that when I was initially invited to attend this event I was a wee bit nervous. I had never visited the Middle East (aside from Dubai) and what with all the negative news these days, it is not too surprising that we all freak out at the idea of visiting the region. However after speaking with the organizers, I decided to stop being a baby and just go… and I am so glad that I did.