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Women in Data Science (WiDS) Worldwide and Stanford Data Science to Host Flagship Conference at Stanford University and Online on International Women’s Day

Featured keynotes include investor and former CEO of Reddit Ellen Pao, Stanford Professor Manisha Desai, and Zehra Venugopal from Wells Fargo 

Women in Data Science (WiDS) Worldwide will host its flagship annual conference at Stanford University and online on March 8, 2024, featuring keynotes, technical talks, and panels on four central themes: Digital Economies, Child Safety and Health, Sustainability, and Space. 

The sold-out event will bring together hundreds of data science experts on Stanford’s campus on International Women’s Day, whose theme this year is “Invest in women: Accelerate progress.” Thousands more are expected to join virtually or participate in satellite events in the Netherlands, Afghanistan, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, Sweden, Trinidad & Tobago, and other countries, as well as additional locations in the U.S.

WiDS began in 2015 as a one-day technical conference at Stanford to highlight the work of talented women in data science. Today, WiDS is a global movement to elevate and empower women that reaches 150,000 participants in more than 160 countries each year through conferences, a datathon program, a podcast series, skill building workshops, and more. This year’s conference is the product of close collaboration between WiDS Worldwide and Stanford Data Science.

“I’m thrilled that WiDS will be back at Stanford for our ninth annual conference,” says Dr. Margot Gerritsen, the Co-founder and Executive Director of WiDS Worldwide and Professor Emerita at Stanford. “This year’s speakers and panelists are using AI and data science to grapple with urgent issues around fraud, child sexual abuse, climate change, transportation, human trafficking, planetary missions, and more. Their groundbreaking expertise shows how women are leading and innovating — and why we must continue our work to ensure women of all backgrounds can become data scientists and AI experts and thrive in the field.”

The conference will feature three keynote speakers:

  • Ellen Pao is a tech investor, the former CEO of Reddit, and co-founder of the award-winning diversity and inclusion nonprofit Project Include. Her fireside chat will focus on leadership, advocacy, and lasting impact. 
  • Manisha Desai is the Kim and Ping Li Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Data Science at Stanford University. Her keynote will explore how data science and AI can deliver on their promise for improving public health. 
  • Zehra Venugopal is the CIO of Fraud and Claims Technology at Wells Fargo. Her keynote will consider how AI and machine learning can be used to fight fraud. 

“So much of how technology turns out depends on how it’s built and by whom,” says Ellen Pao. 

Pao faced severe backlash for taking steps to make Reddit a safer online community while interim CEO, and previously led a landmark gender discrimination lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins.

Pao continues: “When women and nonbinary people — especially if they are also transgender, disabled, from a marginalized race or ethnicity, or otherwise marginalized group — can’t participate on equal terms, teamwork, financial returns, and innovation all suffer. Through my nonprofit Project Include, I’ve seen how women, nonbinary people, and people from other marginalized backgrounds can join together to affirm our indispensable role in tech, and how data and metrics need to be part of diversity and inclusion efforts. I’m grateful to WiDS and Stanford University for the invitation to speak about how women and nonbinary people can lead, advocate, and make an impact.” 

The WiDS Stanford 2024 conference will also feature a dozen technical talks, four panels, video interludes, a live immersive art performance, a poster blitz featuring student researchers, and networking opportunities with sponsoring companies. Technical talks by leading women data scientists from across the country and around the world include “Toward a Deeper Understanding of our Climate System through Data Science,” “Is AI Killing Our Purpose?” “Mission Impossible: Leveraging Data for Otter Pup Rescue and Satellite Operations,” “Bringing AI-Driven Technologies to the Fight Against Human Trafficking in Brazil,” and more. Panels will center around the conference’s four themes: Digital Economies, Child Safety and Health, Sustainability, and Space. A full conference agenda is available on the WiDS Worldwide website. 

Last fall, WiDS spun-out from Stanford University and became an independent global nonprofit. WiDS and Stanford Data Science remain tightly integrated and continue to collaborate on shared goals and events like the conference. The WiDS Stanford chapter integrates and builds on WiDS Worldwide’s mission at Stanford University, elevating women doing data-intensive research.

“Stanford Data Science is excited to welcome an incredible lineup of speakers from industry, academia, NGOs, and government, as well as attendees from all over the world, to campus,” says Stanford Data Science Director of Engagement and Partnerships Elizabeth Wilsey. “WiDS Worldwide’s mission to celebrate and elevate women data scientists is a key pillar of Stanford Data Science’s focus on diversity. Advances in data science education and data-driven discovery depend on the inclusion of women, people of color, and experts from a variety of experiences and backgrounds.”


WHAT: WiDS Stanford 2024 Conference

WHEN: Friday, March 8, 2024, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 PM (UTC - 8) 

WHERE: Stanford University 

Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center 326 Galvez Street Stanford, CA 94305

VIRTUAL ATTENDANCE: Click here to register 

A full schedule of the Women in Data Science Worldwide conference is available at To learn more about Women in Data Science Worldwide, visit To learn more about Stanford Data Science, visit

Press interested in covering the event or connecting with any of the speakers can reach out to Tina Tang at

About Women in Data Science Worldwide

Women in Data Science (WiDS) Worldwide is a nonprofit dedicated to changing the field of data science across the globe by elevating and empowering women to achieve 30% representation in education, innovation and leadership by 2030. Since its beginnings as a Stanford conference in 2015, the organization has steadily built a community of women in data science, at every level of involvement, around the globe. To advance its mission, the organization runs programs in education, innovation and leadership, including: conferences, datathon competitions, an ambassador network, podcasts, NextGen outreach and education for secondary schools, upskill workshops, and recruiting events. WiDS has more than 900 Ambassadors, and each year hosts more than 200 events around the globe, reaching more than 150,000 participants in more than 163 countries.

About Stanford Data Science 

Stanford Data Science (SDS) is an interdisciplinary program that accelerates data science education and data-driven discovery across Stanford and beyond. Through programs, events, and community, SDS empowers students and faculty engaged in data-intensive science to explore, collaborate, and exchange ideas. SDS hosts a wide range of programming, such as Data Science Scholars and the Data Science for Social Good summer fellowship, as well as four distinct research centers, including the Stanford Causal Science Center (SC2) and the Center for Sustainability Data Science (SuDS). 

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