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10 women leading the way in data science

13 Oct 2020

There are many excellent women working in the data science industry today. But we’ve rounded up a list of 10, with a mixture of both industry leaders and ones to watch.

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The data science industry is thriving and as AI and machine learning continue to evolve, so too will the role of the data scientist. While this may create new and exciting opportunities in tech, there is still a gender gap in this sector that needs to be addressed.

A report from Boston Consulting Group earlier this year suggested that only about 15pc to 22pc of all professionals in data science-related roles are women. With this in mind, we at Siliconrepublic.com wanted to highlight just some of the incredible women in the data science industry who are leading the way.

Prof Maria Fasli

In 2016, Prof Maria Fasli became the first UNESCO chair in analytics and data science. Her key objective was to highlight the critical role that data plays in promoting equality, sustainable development and how it can enhance people’s lives.

Fasli is also the director of the Institute for Analytics and Data Science at the University of Essex. Her research interests include AI techniques for analysing and modelling complex systems and structured and unstructured data in various domains.

Cathy O’Neil

Cathy O’Neil is a mathematician who has worked as a professor, hedge-fund analyst and data scientist. She is the founder of algorithmic auditing company ORCAA and is the author of Weapons of Math Destruction.

O’Neil has also written articles for Bloomberg, The Guardian and has given a TED talk on the challenges and dangers around big data.

Danai Koutra

A recipient of the 2020 Association for Computing Machinery’s SIGKDD Rising Star Award, Danai Koutra is an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan.

Her research in large-scale data mining focuses on principled, interpretable and scalable methods for network summarisation and multi-network analysis.

Medb Corcoran

Medb Corcoran leads Accenture Labs in Ireland, which is based at The Dock, Accenture’s global flagship R&D and innovation centre. In her role, Corcoran incubates and prototypes new concepts through applied R&D projects and drives the centre’s artificial intelligence R&D.

Corcoran is also on the advisory board of the master’s in business analytics in UCD and plays an ongoing role in shaping the new bachelor’s degree in data science at DCU, which launched in 2016.

Naomi Hanlon

Naomi Hanlon is a data scientist who has experience working in many different areas and recently joined Liberty IT as a senior data scientist.

Hanlon has an educational background in mathematics and bioinformatics. Her current roles involves the use of problem-solving skills and analytical thinking and she enjoys using R for data analysis and visualisation when working with large datasets.

Sharvari Gujja

Having worked her way up from bioinformatician, Sharvari Gujja is now the director of bioinformatics at the advanced artificial intelligence laboratory in Genuity Science. In that time, she has contributed to a number of high-profile scientific publications, including research in Cell Stem Cell and Nature Metabolism.

A young woman with dark hair and a black blazer smiles at the camera.

Sharvari Gujja. Image: Genuity Science

Along with her team, Gujja applies proprietary, domain-specific AI algorithms to reveal novel patterns and causal dependencies to advance biological understanding of disease.

Domonique Hodge

Domonique Hodge is a lead data scientist at American analytics and advisory company Gallup, having joined the company in 2016. She previously worked as an analyst and statistician in various institutions, and obtained her PhD in biostatistics from Emory University.

Hodge is passionate about leveraging big data to build tools and tell stories that drive impact and create actionable insights.

Emily Glassberg Sands

As the head of data science at Coursera, Emily Glassberg Sands and her team build the statistical models and machine learning algorithms that power content discovery and help scale the learning experience at the online course provider.

​She holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a PhD from Harvard, both in economics. Her academic research blends experimentation, econometrics and machine learning to better understand labour markets and consumer decision-making.

Rama Akkiraju

Rama Akkiraju is an IBM fellow and a director at the IBM Watson division, where she leads the AI operations team with a mission to scale AI for enterprises. She holds a master’s degree in computer science and in 2017 was named as one of the top 20 women advancing AI research by Forbes.

Prior to her work at IBM, Akkiraju worked on agent-based decision support systems, electronic marketplaces and semantic web services. She has also written more than 100 technical papers.

Monica Rogati

Monica Rogati is a technical and strategic data science adviser, working with companies across several different industries.

She previously worked as Jawbone’s vice-president of data, where she built and led a team of data scientists and engineers. She was also one of the early members of LinkedIn’s data science team.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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