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WiDS Posts | June 19, 2020

In honor of Juneteenth

All of us on the Global WiDS team are outraged by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and too many others who have lost lives to police violence, as well as the death of Ahmaud Arbery and countless others that have lost their lives to racism and hatred.

The Global WiDS team unequivocally condemns these actions and the systemic racism that they represent. We will be taking time to review our own programs, practices and communications so that we can better support and build a truly inclusive community across the globe.

The WiDS initiative was started and has continued with the goals of inspiring women around the world to join the data science field, educating participants regardless of gender, and supporting women who are already in the field. These goals have been applied to all women, regardless of race, nationality or background.

That said, we can and must do better.

Moving forward, we pledge to further extend our outreach to the communities, organizations, and universities and schools that serve the Black and underrepresented minorities communities. We will also invite more Black and other underrepresented minority women to become members of our planning teams and committees to ensure that the topics and speakers we select are meaningful and relevant to all .

We recognize that data science can be part of the solution. We’ve featured fantastic women who are doing important work to protect privacy, and combat bias and injustice, including:
Professor Latanya Sweeney from Harvard University focuses on maintaining data privacy
Timnit Gebru from Google concentrates on ethical AI
Megan Price, from HRDAG uses data science to expose human rights abuses around the world
Professor Alicia Carriquiry from Iowa State University works on machine learning to more accurately assess criminal evidence
The Ethics panel with Aslihan Demirkaya, Lucy Bernholz, and Lynn Kirabo, moderated by Professor Margot Gerritsen, highlights the critical importance of diversity and a multi-disciplinary approach to data science.

We also recognize that data science and AI can be part of the problem. Societal prejudices can be reflected and even amplified in the solutions based on biases in data and algorithms.

We can and must do better.

We pledge to focus on bias, ethics and fairness as an integral part of all our WiDS initiatives. This includes the selection of speakers that we highlight during the WiDS Stanford conference, guests that we feature in the WiDS podcast, participants that we engage and train with the WiDS datathon, and schools that we support with education outreach. We also pledge to actively support and promote work done in this area through our channels and partners worldwide.

The time for intentional action is now, and we are committed to doing our part to create a more just and fair world.

Please join us in these critical efforts. We welcome your thoughts and collaboration.

Margot Gerritsen, Karen Matthys, and Judy Logan
Co-Directors, Women in Data Science (WiDS) Initiative
Stanford University