We had the first Women in Data Science session at the ODSC India 2019 conference that was attended by more than 40 women data scientists, and hosted by MathWorks.

Our first speaker, Dr. Sweta Choudhary, Head of Medical Products and Services at Medwell Ventures spoke about the application of AI, ML in healthcare. Dr Sweta’s talk was very interesting and informative, striking the right balance between technology and human aspects of AI in healthcare industry.

Next up at the podium was Vidhya Veeraraghavan, Associate Vice President – Analytics, Standard Chartered Bank. Vidhya gave a heartfelt talk about her journey in the industry, and tips on leadership and growth for women in India. Vidhya then spoke about the challenges with change management and incorporating AI, ML techniques at work. There can be resistance with legacy systems, fear of automation replacing jobs, etc. However, data-driven proof helps in the process. She concluded with encouraging women to overcome various challenges, put thoughts to things and imbibe continuous learning for growth.

Dr Archana Kumari works with Diageo, and her talk opened with a witty note on the correlation between data science and women. “Both share these 2 common aspects: First, both have vast potential; second, both will give amazing results if you treat them well!”. Dr Archana traced her career path in Data Science across different domains such as Retail, HR, Telecommunication, Automobile and Insurance analytics and concluded by mentioning the importance of diversity in the data science area, which is also now being recognized by various companies.

Shrutika Poyrekar was up next with her lightning talk. Shrutika is a statistician and computer scientist at Yodlee, working on data science problems in the finance industry. Shrutika gave an overview of her career voyage from a startup to Yodlee. She is excited about the various prospects of using data science in the finance industry, and in the health care domain.

Our concluding speaker was Pallavi Kar from MathWorks working in the area of Language of Technical Computing. Pallavi’s talk was focused on the three main dimensions of data science for women technologists – Computational Thinking, “Applying AI in specific domain” and Three, “Career growth in AI”. Pallavi spoke about how computationally thinking in education has evolved with use of software analysis tools compared to the traditional pedantic methodologies; these have greatly enabled improved understanding of concepts at a fundamental level. With respect to application of AI in domain, she mentioned the need for a roadmap in the organization, internal sponsors for projects, and tools for continuous learning. She reaffirmed the prior speakers’ observations on how the data science landscape has evolved over the past few years, and of initial challenges. Finally, for Career Growth in AI, Pallavi encouraged women to let their interests guide their path, be it in research or other application areas.

Pallavi’s talk was a fitting finale to a motivating and enjoyable Women in Tech lunch session at ODSC.

Sudha Dhoorjaty
MathWorks India


Sunita John
MathWorks India