USAA Conference Encourages Women to Explore Data Science

USAA employee Rachel B. was working on a degree in data analytics when she attended the Women in Data Science (WiDS) Conference.USAA employee Rachel B. was working on a degree in data analytics when she attended the Women in Data Science (WiDS) Conference.

From predictive modeling to machine learning, data science is a key component of bringing our USAA strategy to life. However, less than 20% of current data scientists are women. 


Hanane M., data scientist and leader of USAA’s 2022 Women in Data Science (WiDS) conference, says USAA’s vision is to bring that number up to 30% by 2030.


“Data analytics is one of the essential areas needed for future-proofing USAA to ensure we reach our vision to be the financial services provider of choice for the military community,” she says. “Using data ensures we make the right decisions, and the combination of expanded perspectives through diversity and data is a powerful thing.”


For the last four years, women in tech and data have coordinated, led and presented during the USAA WiDS daylong virtual event on April 7. More than 600 participants joined WiDS this year, exceeding last year’s guest count by roughly 48%. This conference was initially established at Stanford University and now includes more than 200 regional events in more than 60 countries. 


The impact of the conference is far reaching, especially for employees like Rachel B. who always had an interest in data science. 


“When I attended my first WiDS, I was already working towards my master’s degree in data analytics from the University of Texas at San Antonio with the help of EdAssist benefits provided by USAA,” says Rachel, data scientist, member analytics.


“The conference really solidified that data science was where I wanted to go, and it helped me identify the technical and soft skills I needed.”


She says the conference was a key development opportunity to help her not only land a job in the field but to be successful. 

“Seeing the amazing work women in the field were doing and being able to network with like-minded data ‘nerds’ was inspiring and made me feel more confident in my career pivot,” says Rachel.


Amala D., EVP, enterprise chief information officer, who delivered the keynote speech at this year’s event, says the benefits of the conference are exponential – growing over time. 


“We must all remember how we arrived at where we stand today,” says Amala. “Many individuals have helped us, and it is important for us to pay it forward by taking someone under our wings to grow together. Empowered women empower women.” 


A total of 552 mentorship opportunities were created at WiDS this year, multiplying the impact of the conference throughout the year. Also, 51% of the attendees who were new to the field shared that the event inspired them to pursue a career in data science. 




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