The Story behind

Unity. Empowerment. Bravery.

How it started: What inspired me to organize the “Women+ in Data and AI Summer Festival” 2023.

In 2020, I started working on because at that time we needed books or structured resources on how to systematically get Machine Learning models into production and how to manage software projects with ML components. Everything was just about data science or machine learning methods, but not about how to get ML into production. I had my first contact with the Women in Machine Learning and Data Science Berlin chapter in the winter of 2020, and I had to convince the organizers that MLOps was an important topic for the upcoming meetup. Unfortunately, the pandemic interfered with our plans, and the lockdown canceled all events.

Fast forward to 2022. Slowly but surely, the meetup scene woke up, and I took the opportunity to propose an in-person meetup at INNOQ in Berlin. Well, MLOps is hot, so no one needs to be convinced that this is a great topic to talk about.

The Berlin WiMLDS meetup

On June 27, I gave a talk on MLOps Foundations for Data Scientists, where I demystified the MLOps hype by explaining the principles of MLOps, why MLOps is essential to deliver business value, and how to navigate the vast field of MLOps tools.

Larysa in front of the audience, wearing a white shirt and yellow pants, showing a slide about Canonical MLOps.
Larysa speaking at the WiMLDS meetup

One thing that really blew me away was the overall setup that the organizers set up at the beginning of the event. They managed to create a safe space and an inclusive environment for all of us, me and the attendees. There was a nice mix of female tech communities at this meetup. I got to meet my fellow ladies from WiMLDS and remarkable women from PyLadies and Women in Robotics and AI. Interestingly, a large group from Bolt attended the meetup and shared their experiences with MLOps. My talk was followed by a lively Q&A session that lasted almost an hour. It was refreshing to see all the curiosity about my experience in MLOps. Attendees shared their concerns about machine learning governance. Many data scientists were concerned about the environmental sustainability of large machine learning models, which consume a lot of expensive resources.

The idea of the female+ tech festival was born

Exhausted but happy, I walked home late that night after the meetup with more energy than I had started the day with. I realized that something significant had happened to me and my professional life. This meetup was a transformative experience for me. For the first time, I experienced something like a safe space and respect when speaking in public. I enjoyed the curiosity of the audience. Everyone was eager to learn. Speaking at this meetup was a real empowerment that I have read about on social media but never experienced myself. This meetup empowered the attendees and me through learning and seeing a role model. The next day, my LinkedIn literally exploded with connection requests and positive feedback from all those women. And I got the second boost of empowerment from networking and connecting with all these female tech communities.

At that point, I had an urgent feeling that I wanted to create this empowerment experience - why not have a tech festival and celebrate female tech excellence as a whole? So, let's scale the concept of WiMLDS by giving a stage to the female+ speakers specialized in data engineering, data science and MLOps and invite everyone to celebrate together!

This is the empowerment I want for every woman in tech.

At this point it was just a thought, an idea. And it would have stayed that way if my amazing colleagues Stefanie Heinrich, Dajana Günter and Melanie Schäfer, to whom I first explained my vision of the festival, had not encouraged me to push forward and implement it as a team!

Lessons learned: I encourage everyone to never give up on their plans and dreams because they can grow into bigger and remarkable ideas.

The festival’s mission

Our mission is to create an environment for female and gender minority tech communities in data engineering, machine learning, data science and MLOps by inviting them to an event that stands for

  • Unity — to connect all female and gender minority communities.
  • Empowerment — to become empowered through education.
  • Courage — to be energized to achieve our goals and live successful lives.

We aim to celebrate inclusion and diversity in diverse tech communities by organizing a “Women+ in Data and AI” summer festival where we create opportunities to engage in technical, professional, and non-technical conversations in a positive, supportive environment. We will feature talks by women and gender minorities working in data engineering, data science, machine learning, and MLOps. We will also host non-technical workshops and networking events.

The festival is open to anyone regardless of gender, identity, or technical background.

The term “women and gender minorities” is inclusive of women (trans and cis), trans men, and people who are non-binary, genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, intersex, and all other minority genders.