A Guide to Hosting Your Own Data + Women Meetup

By Erin Stevens 23 Nov, 2015

Here's a photo from the Data + Women meetup at TC15. From left: Moderator Anushka Anand poses with panelists Christine Birtel, Jennifer Chan, and Tara Kats.

Go to a tech conference, and you need only to look at the restroom lines to know that it’s a man’s game. Men often have a long wait while women can march right in.

Things fare a bit better in the data industry. Go to the Tableau Conference, for example, and women, too, have to wait in line. Women in the data industry share anecdotes of a slightly better-balanced field (though, ironically, there’s no data to support this).

And that, in short, is why you might consider hosting a Data + Women meetup. The event can help foster discussions of sensitive issues that may be difficult to broach in other settings. The community can also empower women in the data industry and rally around tangible initiatives like education, training, and partnerships.

We hosted our own #datapluswomen meetup at the annual Tableau Conference in October, and we’ve already seen the momentum building within our community. In fact, your requests for tips on how to host a Data + Women meetup is what prompted us to put this guide together!

So, without further ado, here are the five steps to hosting your own meetup.

1. Choose the Right Format

What type of event would suit your community best? You might consider hosting a panel or a roundtable discussion. Or maybe your community would prefer a speed-networking event or a night of Ignite-style talks. You could also host a viz competition or a viz show-and-tell using women-centric data.

Whatever your approach, teaming up with educational or nonprofit partners can help broaden your reach and invite new faces to the table.

2. Set a Positive Tone

Once you kick off the discussion, you’ll quickly see that this can be a sensitive topic for many people. That’s why it’s critical to set a positive tone from the start. Make sure everyone feels included in the conversation.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have an honest and meaningful discussion. Yes, people will have differing opinions, but sharing perspectives is part of the process. So don’t shy away from difficult topics, but do make sure the tone remains constructive.

3. Find the Right People

First, find the right organizer. This person should be proactive, action-oriented, and passionate about women in data.

Once you have an organizer, find people who can share their stories. Look for inspirational women who are doing amazing things with data. Aim for diversity in both backgrounds and experience.

4. Ask Questions

So your meetup is finally here. What do you actually talk about?

Asking questions is a great way to kick things off. Some questions you might ask include: What are some challenges women in the data industry face? What’s something you wish you knew when you were starting out? How can women support each other within the industry? (Check out the full list of questions.)

Once you get the conversation started, you can expand the discussion to cover a number of topics like navigating career paths, effectively advocating for oneself, and finding work-life balance.

5. Share What You Learn

And after you host your own Data + Women meetup, do tell us how it went! What were the highlights and the challenges? Share your thoughts and materials on the Data + Women Community Forum.

Learn More about the Data + Women Movement

Advice from a Humanitarian Who Responds to Crises
Advice from a Leader Who Built Her Own Analytics Team
Lessons from a Promising Data Explorer
Advice from the SFBATUG Members

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