Posted on March 18, 2018

The KINDI Center for Computing Research (KINDI) at Qatar University College of Engineering (QU-CENG) recently hosted the “Women in Data Science” (WiDS) Conference, in commemoration of the International Women’s Day.

The event, which is organized in collaboration with Stanford University and sponsored by the British Council Qatar, is part of Cyber Women, a KINDI initiative to encourage and empower women towards science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It aimed to discover new local STEM role models and share inspiring success stories from Qatar, and to inspire and empower data scientists worldwide, regardless of gender, as well as to support women in this field. It was supported by IEEE Qatar Section, IEEE Women in Engineering, GDG Doha, Women Techmakers, and ArabWIC Qatar.

Attendees included CENG Dean Dr Khalifa Al-Khalifa, KINDI Director Dr Noora Fetais, CENG Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Head Dr Sumaya Al Maadeed, QU College of Business and Economics (CBE) Professor of Information Systems Dr Karma Sherif, British Council Qatar Country Director Dr Frank Fitzpatrick, Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) Assistant Professor Dr Dena Al Thani, and Sidra Medical and Research Centre Pediatric Immunologist and Allergist Dr Amel Hassan.

This event was a great opportunity to bring Arab women together to network, communicate and share the latest news and knowledge about their field. It was also a great opportunity for women from academia, industry and research to get to know local female leaders in STEM area. It included four workshops on “Introduction to machine and deep learning using Python”, “How search engines work”, “British Council Qatar Springboard”, and “WiDS Stanford Video – cast”. Dr Noora Fetais said: “KINDI will continue its ongoing efforts to lead and support events and activities that help and push forward women in technology in all sectors, since this will contribute to guaranteeing a fruitful future for females to be able to share passion for technology. I would like to express our gratitude to the event’s sponsors, partners and speakers who are committed to make a great value to the future of women in data science.”

Dr Frank Fitzpatrick said: “The British Council is very glad to be involved with this event celebrating International Women’s Day. We focus strongly on initiatives promoting and celebrating women’s skills and achievements, and to see and hear so many success stories is very encouraging. Recently the British Council has had direct involvement with two of them: Dr Noora Fetais, who presented at our UK Cybersecurity Symposium in Manchester in November, and Dr Amel Hassan who is the Qatar representative of the British Council’s #ChampionsofScience initiative. With role models such as these and the rest of the speakers we hope the younger generation will go on to make great strides both in innovation and women’s representation.”

Dr Dena Al Thani said: “The field of data science has quickly blended into many fields including computing, engineering, social sciences and even medicine. I started my research career focusing on assistive technologies and human-computer interaction (HCI). A few years later, I found myself using data science techniques to build more powerful assistive technologies and to dig deeper in HCI research. In fact, all of the research we do nowadays is data-driven. It is such an honor to be amongst pioneer women in computing in Qatar in the Women in Data Science Conference. This conference represents the KINDI center’s intention to support women in data science and computing.”

Dr Karma Sherif said: “Women have demonstrated time after time their high emotional competencies. We excel in mentoring and coaching, in resolving conflict, in inspiring others to take leadership roles, in adapting to new environments, and in showing empathy. We can better design machines that demonstrate emotional intelligence, that can sense our emotions, and that show compassion and understanding. Women are well positioned to design machines that can collaborate with humans not replace them; that can take humans to the next level not make them obsolete.”