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WiDSTORY | April 13, 2020

WiDS Ambassador Inspires Women Across Colombia to Learn About and Pursue Opportunities in Data Science

Tell us about your background.

I was born in Cúcuta, a small city in northern Colombia and for the last five years I lived in Medellín, Colombia where I started my journey with data science. I am currently living in Stockholm, Sweden as a digital marketing professional and a bachelor student in systems engineering at Universidad EAN. I’m passionate about developing communities for women in technology, am co-founder of Data Science Fem and enjoying my third year as a WiDS ambassador.

How did you get interested in data science?

I was initially working in web programming and entrepreneurship in digital businesses and recognized that digital marketing was increasingly relying on data analysis, interpretation of user behavior, and predictions to set goals and make decisions. That’s when I discovered the importance of data science.

What are you currently working on?

For the past six months, I’ve been living in Sweden. I’m working on a project called the Magenta Codes | Women’s Power, applying my experience in data science to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 — to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. The objective of the project is for technology companies to support this training and include women in their workforce to achieve diversity and balance in their businesses, especially technology companies where 78 percent of the workers are men. I hope this is not just a project, but that it becomes a community where women can help each other and find opportunities in this field without barriers.

How did you discover WiDS? Tell us about your first experience with WiDS.

In 2017 I wanted to enter the field of data science so I created a study group with four other girls and we called it Data Science Fem​. We started to meet and research online courses to study data science. One day, I saw an invitation on Twitter to be part of the WiDS Ambassador program and sent a message asking: “When will this event take place in Colombia?”

They responded with: “Would you like to be a WiDS ambassador?” I said yes! And in 2018 we put on our first WiDS event in Medellín with 80 attendees. We organized the event in just 15 days. Our small study group of five grew to 30 women, and we got scholarships for one year with DataCamp. I was very proud of this growth and at that moment I understood that the purpose of my life is to inspire and motivate more women to learn about data science and the opportunities of the digital world.

Have you been involved with WiDS since that first experience? If so, how?

By 2019, my proposal was more ambitious. I decided to organize WiDS events in more cities in Colombia. By then, our group included more than 80 women. We raised more than $15,000 to finance events in Medellín, Neiva, and Cali and by joining Team Bogotá we reached more than 1,000 women across Colombia. We managed to hold one of the best free events in Colombia compared to the events such as PyCon and JSCof where you must pay for a ticket.

The impact we achieved with WiDS in Colombia is very large. We were a local trend on Twitter in all the WiDS events of Medellín, Neiva, and Cali. As soon as the event ended, people wanted to know when the next event would be, and how to become be part of Data Science Fem. Now we feel the responsibility of continuing in the community and organizing this event every year.

It was a lot of work for six intense months. But I had never worked with so much love and passion for a beautiful cause. I feel that I am planting seeds in each of the people who attended our events and I am sure that soon that seed will be a beautiful plant full of fruits or flowers that will soon be helping us and sharing with more people.

In 2020, our leaders organized our WiDS event in Medellin, and I supported our community remotely from Sweden. The Data Science Fem community continues to grow, with more than 400 people who want to learn data science and work in this field.

Here in Stockholm, I met with the ambassadors of WiDS Sweden and I volunteered to support the WiDS event here. I am very happy to meet them and I hope to learn a lot from them and share that knowledge with my colleagues in Colombia.

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

In my life, I am enriched to see so many women growing day by day and feel that I was part of that growth. My eyes fill with tears of joy to see all these women inspired to start this new path. There are many stories of women who tell us that because of this event they began to believe in themselves and what is possible to achieve. I am very proud of all the women of Data Science Fem because now they are the ones leading this community to be self-sustaining.

At the job level, companies appreciate people who volunteer their time to help the world without expecting anything in return. Now they are the companies that are looking for us to be part of this transformation and want to help us continue delivering this message.

What comes next for you?

I want to continue my studies in data science, work in a large technology company in Sweden, and turn Magenta Codes into a large community of self-sustaining women to train and hire more women in the technology industry with the help of companies in the sector.

What are your hopes for women in data science in the future?

My message for all women in data science is:
“You can do it, I believe in you. It is a path of patience and a lot of learning, but don’t give up. The world is waiting for you to contribute your ideas. If you are in this world of data science, please share the knowledge and bring your support to evolve collectively, I am sure that every woman you help will be sharing her learning with more people.”