‘Acknowledging past injustices’: UC Berkeley Division of Data Sciences holds event focused on increasing, celebrating diversity

Kristen Tamsil/Staff

Related Posts

In order to increase diversity and inclusion within the data science field, the UC Berkeley Division of Data Sciences partnered with the Diversity and Inclusion Working Group of the Berkeley Institute for Data Science, or BIDS, to host an informational data research event in Doe Library on Tuesday.

According to Cathryn Carson, the faculty lead for the undergraduate data science program, the event was part of Data & Tech for All Week, a collaboration between several campus departments concerning increasing diversity and inclusion and recognizing the progress that has been made within the technological areas of study on campus. The series will culminate with the Women in Tech Symposium on Friday, which is being hosted by the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, or CITRIS, and the Banatao Institute, along with the College of Engineering.

“What I am really excited about is how easy it was to get all the participants to recognize that together we can send a message to all the students and the outside world that everyone is welcome in the field of data science, and how we at Berkeley feel like data science should be done,” Carson said.

Unlike CITRIS and the College of Engineering, the Division of Data Sciences is a new program, announced last November. According to Carson, a focus is being placed on diversity from the onset of the organization, with its programs and curriculum aimed at “acknowledging past injustices.”

Orianna DeMasi, a former fellow at BIDS and graduate student, said one way to get more people involved in the field of data science, especially those who are usually underrepresented in STEM, is to increase the “democratization of soft knowledge around the process” of application and involvement.

“If you don’t know a data scientist, how do you know that it is your calling?” DeMasi said. “Exposure is really important.”

Tuesday’s event involved a three-part workshop and dinner event series. It included a panel on research participation, advice on graduate school opportunities and opportunities for networking.

The panel was moderated by UC Berkeley D-Lab Executive Director Claudia von Vacano and featured graduate students Ijeamaka Anyene, Kennedy Agwamba and Kellie Ottoboni, who spoke about their experiences in technological and scientific research as members of different underrepresented communities throughout their undergraduate and graduate careers.

They discussed many topics, ranging from “imposter syndrome” to the hesitation to email professors to coping with dyslexia in higher education.

“As a student of color and someone who is underrepresented, I really feel like they spoke their truth and I resonated with that,” said attendee Jarelly Martin, a senior majoring in applied mathematics with a concentration in data science.

The next event scheduled in the BIDS series is planned for April 8 and will discuss data science beyond academia.

Contact Katherine Finman at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC ‏.