Exploring Communities of Practice: Spotlight on Women in Machine Learning and Data Science Accra Ghana

We want to introduce the ESCALATOR community to inclusive digital and computational environments, fostering a sense of belonging for all. We’ve had the privilege of speaking with Deborah D Kanubala, who shed some light on the transformative initiatives led by WiMLDS Accra Ghana.

Key Info

📚 Tell us more about your community

Can you provide a brief overview of the community’s mission?

Our mission is to provide a safe community for all underrepresented groups of people to thrive and grow in the field of Data Science and AI.

How and when was this community established?

We started the Accra Ghana community in August of 2020

Which region(s) are you active in?

The entire organization can be found all over the world. However the chapter in Ghana is currently active only in Accra. Most of our meetups are done virtually so we are able to have people all over Ghana join in.

Who is this community for?

Anyone who identify as part of an underrepresented gender group (i.e. women particularly).

When and where does the community connect?

We connect on Zoom at least once every month through a meetup on a related data science of machine learning topic.

🤝 Can you share more about getting involved

How can new members join your community?

You can join us by joining our Meetup Page or the Telegram Group.

What does the onboarding process look like for new members?

We add new members to our community telegram page and welcome them.

What can members look forward to in 2024?

We have really great programs planned for 2024 aside the great meetups on career development in Data Science. We are also planning a maiden edition of a mathematics in Machine Learning Bootcamp in collaboration with the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences Ghana.

Is there space and value for women in Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) from South Africa to join this community?

Yes, your community members are certainly welcome to join. Given that we host most of our events online, it will be possible for your members to benefit fully from being a part of us.

🌍 Can you share some thoughts on DEI in your community

Could you share some of the key initiatives or programs the community has implemented to promote diversity and inclusion within the field?

  • We acknowledge that there are very great women in the field of data science and machine learning. As such, we make it a point that our invited speakers 90% of the time are women or from under-represented groups.

  • This year, we are beginning our Women Crush Wednesday series, in which we aim to highlight women doing amazing work in the field.

  • Our community is also open to anyone who identifies as par of an underrepresented group.

Can you share any of the success stories or milestones the community has achieved in terms of DEI?

  • Increased Representation: We have successfully increased the representation of underrepresented groups within our community through outreach programs, and partnerships with diverse organizations eg Deep Learning Indaba, AIMS Ghana

  • Empowering Marginalized Voices: through our monthly meetups, Twitter spaces etc we have created a safe place for marginalized voices to be heard and amplified.

  • Accessible Resources: We have recordings of our sessions on YouTube which are accessible to both members and non-members of the WiMLDS Accra. Materials from our monthly meetups are shared with participants while we write blogs on past sessions for other people to read.

  • Celebrating Diversity: We regularly celebrate the diversity of our community through events, initiatives, and recognition programs that highlight the contributions of individuals from diverse backgrounds. This helps to create a culture of appreciation and respect for diversity.

What advice would you give to other communities wanting to create inclusive and welcoming spaces?

In building an inclusive community, it is important that all members have an equal representation to voice their opinions. Discourage any community member who consistently tries to suppress/silence and make others feel uncomfortable. Inclusive communities can only grow when everyone involved feels represented, heard and valued.

🌟 Final words of encouragement

Why would you encourage people to join communities of practice?

Communities give you a safe place to be yourself and grow. Most of the time, you will find people with similar interests and backgrounds as yourself. You will get the opportunity to learn from their stories and experiences to grow in your field.

Give a word of advice for individuals who are not yet involved in a community of practice.

Communities are an integral part of our journey, join one today.