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The Wharton School and Penn Engineering will host the fourth annual Women in Data Science conference on Friday, featuring experts from the industry, Q&A sessions, and networking opportunities. Credit: Gary Lin

The Wharton School and Penn Engineering will host the fourth annual Women in Data Science conference on Feb. 3.

The conference will include talks from leaders in data science, question-and-answer sessions with speakers, and networking opportunities. It will feature several speakers, including industry leaders at companies such as TikTok and Zillow, and high school students who have participated in the Wharton Global Youth Program's Data Science Academy. The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will last until 3:00 p.m. at Perry World House, in-person for the first time since 2020.

The annual conference was organized by Executive Director of Wharton AI & Analytics for Business Mary Purk, Wharton professor of statistics and data science Linda Zhao, and Weiss professor of computer and information science Susan Davidson. 

Aimee Johnson, former chief marketing officer of Zillow, will serve as the keynote speaker of the conference. An afternoon discussion on data science in retail, finance and tech will feature Krystal Barker Buissereth, the managing director and head of financial wellness at Morgan Stanley; Sarah Norman, a sales leader at Tiktok; and Julie Roehm, the former chief marketing and experience officer of Party City, in addition to Purk. 

“We can show that data science can be applied to any subject and any industry or career choice,” Purk said. 

Purk said that the conference will now have two sessions: an academic session and an industry session. Attendees can decide which one to attend and ask the speakers questions within a smaller group. 

High school students Karen Wang, Christine Lam, Jennifer Li, and Brian Ling will also present a study on the major factors that influence gasoline prices in the United States. The study is the culmination of their work at the Wharton’s Global Youth Data Science Academy, a three-week program for learning about data science.

Li explained how data science presents opportunities and how valuable entering the field in high school was to her.

“I hope that first and foremost, people will see the power behind data science,” Li said. “I also hope that it can inspire people — you can always start early, and there’s never an age limit to these types of things.”

Other speakers will discuss topics such as COVID-19 contact tracing and media biases based on long-term TV news consumption habits, the effects of conditional cash transfer programs on academic achievement, and responsible data management. 

“This conference is a really great opportunity to see where a lot of these very brilliant women from different industries are pursuing their passion and how they’re using data science in order to pursue these passions,” Wang said. 

The conference will also include two undergraduate student speakers. Wharton junior Joanna Yang will present business insights that the Wharton Analytics Accelerator student team derived from McDonald’s complaint data, and Wharton senior Sarah Hu will speak about using NFL player tracking data to analyze wide-receiver and cornerback matchups in order to create game plan strategies. 

Purk said that she hopes all attendees walk away with a renewed excitement towards data investigation and an awareness of the strong support system available for helping them navigate their journey with data science. 

Yang, who is also the president of Wharton Analytics Fellows, said that she sees a lot of underclassmen who feel daunted when trying to begin learning about data science, and she hopes that this conference will encourage them. 

“Don’t be scared to start. There are so many resources at Penn and other places where you can get started with data analytics, and all it really is is seeing what’s out there and trying it out,” Yang said. 

Registration for the conference costs $20 for high school students and current Penn students, faculty, staff. Registration costs $150 for industry professionals, Penn alumni, and academics.