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WiDSTORY | July 20, 2020

Iryna Ivanenko Explains How Her Love of Coding Competitions Led Her to the WiDS Datathon and a Second Place Prize in 2020

Iryna Ivanenko, second place winner of the WiDS Datathon 2020, is a data science and machine learning developer and former WiDS ambassador from Kyiv, Ukraine.

Tell us about your background.

I’m from Kyiv, Ukraine and have a Bachelor’s degree in economics and finance. I always liked science fiction, especially stories about Artificial Intelligence. I’ve tried for a long time to figure out how to connect my education in economics and finance with my interest in AI.

How did you get interested in data science?

In 2014, just after the “Euromaidan Revolution” when the situation in my country was very unclear and unstable, I decided that there was no time to put off my goals. I started taking all kinds of online courses on programming and machine learning. These topics were becoming very popular and there were a lot of educational materials available. I attended everything I found including meetups and in-person courses. At the end of 2015, I found my first job in data science.

What are your currently working on?

Currently I am a data science and machine learning developer focused on building fraud detection systems in the Fintech area. As you can see, I was able to connect my education and my interests after all. But I don’t limit myself only to work. In my free time, I enjoy taking part in data science competitions, which provide a great opportunity to learn about other areas in machine learning.

Another important point in my career was in 2017, when the Women Who Code organization wanted to open a chapter in Kyiv. I joined with a group of other women to start Women Who Code Kyiv. For the past three years, I’ve been the data science lead in the group. We have organized a lot of events about data science, machine learning, and other IT fields. I really like our community and the opportunities that it offers. As a woman who does not have a specialized computer science education, I have encountered difficulties many times on my career path. Our community has helped me a lot and supported me in these difficult times.

How did you first discover WiDS?

I love competitions and spend a lot of time on Kaggle. In 2018, I discovered WiDS through its Kaggle competition. I was delighted to find this specialized organization in the field of data science and really wanted to participate in its development.

Galyna Kriukova, a professor at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, and a member of our Women Who Code community, suggested holding a WiDS event conference at her university. I gladly agreed and helped organize and speak at this event. Our team took fifth place in the datathon competition and told about our experience.

Have you been involved with WiDS since that first experience?

Since then I have been actively watching the WiDS organization and activities. In 2019, I unfortunately missed participating in the competition due to a busy work schedule. But this year, since I quit my job and am working on startup, I decided to participate. I really like competitions with social impact. And this time, our team won second place. And we even decided to participate in the second stage of this competition and wrote a research paper.

How has WiDS made an impact on your life and/or work?

I really like what WiDS does and am happy to support and participate in the events. Most of the women I meet in IT are in the field of data science. Our events on data science in Women Who Code Kyiv always fill the hall and I am very happy about this.

What comes next for you? And what are your hopes for women in the data science in the future?

I hope that the participation of women in data science will grow. For now, it looks like a long way to go before the gender representation becomes more equal, but communities like WiDS are bringing this moment closer.