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A Growing Phenomenon: The Importance of Saudi Women In Data Science

On Tuesday, Prince Sultan University and Stanford University collaborated to launch the Women in Data Science Conference 2023 in Riyadh with the objective to encourage female participation and interest in the field of data science, engineering and computer science.

The conference is conducted annually in nearly 150 universities across more than 60 countries, showcasing the most current research and practices in data science.

Data science plays a crucial role in today's world as it enables individuals and organizations to extract meaningful insights and knowledge from vast amounts of data. It involves the use of statistical and computational methods to analyze and interpret data, and to identify patterns and trends that can be used to make informed decisions.

With that being said, the risk of running and implementing practices that do not come from a diverse perspective is high. Which is why plain and simple: we need more women in the field of data.

In KSA, have picked up on that and so, many renowned personalities and entities were in attendance such as Saudi Arabian and international researchers. In accordance with the agenda, they presented scientific papers and participated in dialogue sessions.

Several Saudi women that have excelled in this department were in attendance, such as Maysa Al-Qurashi. She is a Professor of Mathematics, with a PhD in Analysis from KSU. Her main focus within the academic field falls in Strategic Planning, Quality Assurance, Science – and that is not even the most interesting thing about her.

Dr. Al-Qurashi has more than 60 publications in prestigious journal covering various fields of Mathematics and Analysis such as: Operator Algebras, Harmonic Analysis, Applied Mathematics and Biological Mathematics.

Another Saudi data superstar is Reem Alattas who was at the conference, is a director, SAP Value Advisory, Techpreneur, Inventor, NASA Datanaut, and Speaker. That is what her LinkedIn header says, but we are sure she is being humble.

This Saudi woman has successfully launched many innovative products over the years and raised capital across multiple funding rounds from investors. A household name, she is.

As for the conference, it included workshops and a datathon competition to evaluate the students' proficiency, while also promoting mentorship and interdisciplinary collaboration in accordance with technological advancements.

Vice President of Prince Sultan University’s female campus, Heba Khoshaim, stated in the conference that these types of platforms are “an opportunity to highlight women’s achievement in the digital field, and to discuss and review the most prominent research and practices.”

While Ahmed bin Saleh Al-Yamani, president of Prince Sultan University, said: “The goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the initiatives taken in the digital field have enabled Saudi women to draw their own path in the data science field.”

This is not the first time Saudi Arabia has launched an initiative to push for the field of data science, as a partnership was initiated in the past that yielded Saudi Arabia’s first female data scientists.

The largest university for women in the world, Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University (PNU), had partnered up with Dell, the American tech company, to train data scientists in the kingdom. That collaboration resulted in training 57 female data science and big data analytics students in one semester only, with an additional 103 students certified in cloud infrastructure.

With that training, we are on the right path to ensure data is not biased. The reason that the world, and not just Saudi Arabia, is pushing for female data scientists is that the analysis needs to be made from both genders, not only to ensure collaboration and innovation at all levels, but also to ensure inclusivity in decision making.

Data science is used in a wide range of fields such as finance, healthcare, marketing, and social media, among others, to improve business processes, develop new products and services, and enhance decision-making.

So, imagine having all this vast amount of data analyzed and worked on from just one perspective. Recently, we’ve written an article on how woman pain is dismissed (LINK ARTICLE), and now the kingdom is making those firm steps to rectify that through not only giving women a seat on the table, but having them head these conversations.

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