Data Science

New Program To Support Women in Data Science Field

women in data science

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A new program beginning this fall at Mount Holyoke and Smith College aims to develop women professionals in the field of data science. Funded by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, the MassMutual Women in Data Science program is a four-year, $2 million initiative to create a comprehensive data science curriculum at the two Massachusetts women's institutions.

MassMutual will provide the resources to hire five visiting faculty positions, as well as support curriculum development. The faculty will teach subjects such as natural language processing, machine learning, behavioral economics, applied statistics and computer science. Students at either college will be able to take courses with any of the associated professors.

"Mount Holyoke College is committed to educating a talented and diverse group of future women leaders, and to innovation in this emerging field; a field that is all about asking the right questions, identifying patterns, generating narratives from those patterns and responding ethically to the challenges posed by data," said Sonya Stephens, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty at Mount Holyoke, in a press release. "This partnership with MassMutual offers a tremendous opportunity to connect liberal learning and the Data Science initiative at the College to opportunities that exist in both the academy and the workforce."

"Smith has long been known for educating women who lead in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields," said Smith College Provost Katherine Rowe. "This collaboration will enable Smith to explore new directions in an emerging discipline where we are seeing increasing excitement among students. It creates opportunities for Smith students and will significantly expand the pool of talented women leaders in this field."

Professors sponsored as part of the Women in Data Science program will also teach courses for the recently launched MassMutual Data Science Development program. The initiative hires five to 10 college graduates each year in the fields of math, computer science or statistics; over a three-year period, the new employees are given coursework, applied projects within MassMutual and training for the equivalent of a post-graduate degree.

"Our long-term goal is to develop a team of data scientists in the region, leveraging the already strong programs these schools have in place in math, statistics and computer science," said Sears Merritt, chief data scientist at MassMutual, in a press release. "Through our partnership with Mount Holyoke, Smith and other schools in the region — we are confident that the Pioneer Valley will be a tremendous source of young, talented data scientists."

About the Author

About the author: Rhea Kelly is executive editor for Campus Technology. She can be reached at rkelly@1105media.com.

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