Last year, our DC data + women group had the idea of working with local schools to educate youth about the field of data analytics.  We felt that when we were in high school, we weren’t exposed to data and didn’t realize that data analytics could be a job.  For me personally, I really enjoyed math, technology, problem solving, and photography.  At the time, I didn’t realize that these are great qualities for a data visualization developer!  It wasn’t until I graduated from college that I was introduced to Tableau and realized the possibilities of data analytics.

In order to get started with our workshop, we partnered with the Federal City Public Services Foundation.  The foundation is focused delivering resources, opportunities, and experiences that improve life outcomes for girls and teen women.  They have a lot of the connections and contacts at the DC Public Schools and that’s just what we needed to get the workshop off the ground.


In March, we decided to start drafting up ideas for our 3 hour hands-on data analytics workshop. We would start off with some lightning talks (short 10 minute presentations) about fields within data analytics such as data science and data visualization.  In the lightning talks, students would learn what the field is, what tools are used, and hear the perspective from professionals in data fields.  Following the lightning talks, we would conduct a hands-on analysis of a dataset using Tableau. 

In April, we held a “hackathon” with our DC D+W members to draft the workshop and brainstorm ideas.  At the workshop we asked our members questions like:
“Why are you interested in data?”
“How did you get into a data field?”
“What are some of your favorite data projects or data sets?”
See documents from our hackathon here.


Now that we had a workshop agenda and some ideas in place, we needed to decide when and where to run our pilot.  We contacted a few schools, but with the end of the school year coming up, proms, and final exams, we were running out of time!  Thankfully, one of our D+W members got us in contact with Deputy Major’s Office of Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), who was hosting the InnoMAYtion Hackathon for women, youth, and entrepreneurs in May at the Washington Post.  We had a meeting with them and they were really excited to extend an invitation for us to conduct our pilot at their hackathon!


With a location and a plan, we had two final hurdles.  Many of you may have seen our gofundme page, where we were fundraising for laptops to use in our workshop.  We fundraised enough money to rent 20 computers for the pilot and are hoping to fundraise the remaining amount needed to purchase our own computers for future workshops.  The last hurdle was condensing our 3 hour workshop into a 2 hour workshop, since our session was only allotted 2 hours.  It’s hard to decide what to cut when everything is really important to all of us!


Finally, it was the day of the workshop.  I had packed and unpacked our 20 rented computers into my car twice and was finally taking them up to our workshop room.  The turnout for the event was great and we had a fantastic group of students eager to learn about data analysis and Tableau.  Take a look at our short video of the event.  In the workshop, we sketched out visualizations, learned about data analytics, and created a very simple interactive Tableau dashboard.  Additionally, for our students to continue learning, we provided supporting documentation and additional resources that the students could take with them.

We were very excited as to how well the workshop turned out.   Now it’s time to make revisions and get ready for the next school year.  We want work on our amount of presentations compared to hands-on exercises, so that the students are actively engaged and working on exercises throughout the workshop. Next year, we are hoping to conduct the workshop 4 times throughout the year, then have our own “Iron Viz Junior” with all the participants!


Collaboration was key in the planning and execution of the event!  We have a great group of women and men that are members of our D+W chapter, who provided great input, resources, and connections for us.  We feel strongly about sharing our experience, so that others can learn about what we did and to further advocate for women in data fields. We took lots of pictures, videos, and have been documenting the event on social media and blogs.  Share this post, share our video, share our documentation!  Let’s work on closing the gender gap in STEM fields!


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