Wise Insights

The 8th Annual Workshop for Women in Machine Learning

The 8th annual Women in Machine Learning (WiML) Workshop took place at the end of last week in Lake Tahoe, Nevada and was co-sponsored by wise.io. This was my second time presenting my research at the workshop, which is co-located with NIPS – arguably, one of the most well-attended and prestigious machine learning conferences.

Humble beginnings

The opening talk was given by WiML workshop co-founder, Hanna Wallach, who is an assistant professor of computer science at UMass Amherst. She recounted the story of how WiML started – almost a decade ago, when she was a grad student. She was very excited that she had found three other women to share a hotel room with at a conference… and she thought – this is awesome, there are so many women in machine learning! Next, they found themselves wondering, how many other women are in our field? Among the group, they came up with a handful of women and soon decided to submit a proposal for a small workshop at the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference. It turns out there were many more women in the field than they even realized – first it was 10, then 20, then 50, 60… Once they started proactively seeking out their female peers, they realized that they had quickly outgrown the mini-workshop that they had proposed for the Grace Hopper conference. After some graceful reorganization, they ended up co-locating the workshop with NIPS.

Where we are now

Eight years later, women travel from all over the world to present their research at WiML. Where are all these women from, exactly? I compiled the location information on the 2013 poster presenters and have mapped their locations below. It turns out that there are quite a few women in this field – you just need to know where to look! As Josh emphasized in his blog post last week, it is important for women and underrepresented groups to have role models in our fields. WiML did a great job assembling an impressive all-female panel of invited speakers from academia and industry. I find it equally inspiring to interact with a large community of my female peers in machine learning, and the WiML community is unique in this aspect.

Map of WiML Poster Presenters

Map of Women in Machine Learning Poster Presenters

Topics: Careers, Machine Learning, Data Science, Conferences and Workshops