WiDS Barcelona 2021: Highlights of Women in Data Science in Barcelona.

Last June 22nd the Barcelona School of Informatics was the venue of the event, coorganized by Karina Gibert and Paula Petrone, ambassadors of WiDS Barcelona 2021. See the highlights of the day ...

Women in Data Science - WiDS Barcelona 2021

Karina Gibert and Paula Petrone.

The Women in Data Science Barcelona 2021 (WiDS Barcelona 2021) was successfully held for the first-time last June 22nd. The event followed a hybrid formula, with speakers meeting face-to-face at the Manuel Martí Recober auditorium of the Barcelona School of Informatics (FIB – UPC) while the session was shown on streaming through the YouTube platform.


Twenty invited female prestigious speakers provided an insight of Data Science research and enterprise initiatives in Barcelona. The event also deserved time to discussions and networking.

WiDS Barcelona 2021 started with the opening session, conducted by the WiDS Barcelona 2021 Ambassadors, Karina Gibert (head of Intelligent Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Research Center at UPC and vice-president for ethics and equity at COEINF) and Paula Petrone, CEO of Phenobyte Life Science, S. L. and Researcher at IS Global and the welcoming speeches of the Dean of Barcelona School of Informatics, Josep Fernández Ruzafa and the Rector of the UPC, Daniel Crespo. Both of them emphasized on the importance of such an initiative to make the female talent on Data Science in Barcelona visible, and the positive impact of WiDS Barcelona 2021 for bridging the gender gap in the Data Science field and in the technology sector in general.

The event included two keynote talks. The first, led by Ms. Carme Artigas, State Secretary for Digital Transformation and Artificial Intelligence of the Spanish Government, who presented the National Artificial Intelligence Strategy (ENIA). After the presentation, a dialog between the State Secretary and Karina Gibert followed, focusing on Gender Perspective within the ENIA and the personal experience of Ms. Carme Artigas on leadership as a female in an ICT sector.

Both the opening and the State Secretary talk had direct broadcasting by channel.

In the afternoon, PhD. Virginia Dignum, full professor at UMEA University (Sweden) and Member of the High-Level Expert Group of Artificial Intelligence of the European Commission gave a talk on ethical issues in artificial intelligence and its impact in this new digital era. She presented the ethics guidelines for a Trustworthy AI recommended by the EC. She was introduced by Núria Agell, full professor at ESADE business school.

The event included three additional blocks with female experts in Data Science: (1) Presentation of impact cases in Data Science, (2) A round table on Data Science in health and quality of life, and finally, (3) A round table about the role of women in data-based decision-making.

In the impact cases session, conducted by Paula Petrone, three cases showing real applications of Data Science were introduced.

  • Petia Radeva Full professor and head of the research group on Computer vision and machine learning at Barcelona University. Her talk was entitled Why data science, artificial intelligence, computer vision and deep learning fascinate me?
  • LluÏsa Parés, head of R&D at AIS SA, the first company on AI in Catalonia, founded back to 1987 with a talk entitled Data Science and applications to sustainability
  • Karma Peiró, data journalist and Co-founder of ViT with a talk entitles Research with open data



The Round Table 1: Data Science for Health and Quality of Life was chaired by Karina Gibert and counted with the participation of the following experts:

The Round Table 2: The role of women making decisions guided by data, chaired by Eva Blanco, Public Affairs Manager at HP with the participation of

  • Meritxell Bautista, Cofounder of  Fibracat, president of Fibracat.TV
  • Anna Sanchez, CEO ITimes Advisers, President of Sigital Society Comission at Foment de Treball and  Vicepresident of
  • Carme Torras, Research Professor at Institut de Robòtica i Informàtica Industrial, IRI CSIC-UPC, Barcelona.


Before lunch, three mentoring and networking sessions were organized. To this purpose, three virtual rooms dedicated to three relevant females in the history of ICT were opened, so that attendants could enter the session through videocall. The three rooms addressed three additional topics and were conducted by referent female experts on Data Science from the catalan arena, with invited partners from the enterprise side:

  • Room Joan Clarke: conducted by Núria Castell, ex-dean of the FIB-UPC and expert in gender gap on ICT, with the participation of Marina Rovira, senior manager, Quality, Compliance, and Integrated Services Center at NTT Ltd. The room focused on the topic Using data to improve the working teams performance
  • Room Ada Lovelace: Conducted by Paula Petrone with the participation of Karen Edwards, VP of Data & Analytics Business Engagement, Demand Management and Value Realization at PepsiCo and Teresa Reilly VP, Data + Analytics Program Management and Governance at PepsiCo with the topic Path to leadership in Data Analytics
  • Room Katherine Johnson: Conducted by Elisa Sayrol associate professor at UPC and expert on Computer Vision with the participation of Imma Unica, Data Tech at SEAT data office. The room focused on the topic Mobility and computer vision.

In these mentoring sessions, the participants were able to share their experiences, learn about career opportunities in different fields, receive advice from the experts and establish cooperation and professional networking links.

WiDS Barcelona 2021 made an additional effort to visibilize female talent. On the one hand, all speakers and organizing committee women involved in the event were presented in a special section of the website entitled “Las mujeres del WiDS Barcelona 2021” (Women from WiDS Barcelona 2021) including pictures and bio sketches for all of them. The document can be downloaded at the following link. Also, the mentoring rooms were dedicated to famous ICT female, as explained above. Finally, the venue was decorated with the Scientific Women from UPC, a collection of 34 cartoon representation of scientific women (like Hedy Lamarr, Marie Curie, …..) illustrated by Mercedes Palacios in her work Visionary Women: Unknown inventors. They were mixed with real attendants in the auditorium.


WiDS Barcelona 2021 had 206 registrations (5% of them were male) representing 12 countries from Europe and America.


The event was very successful with more than 300 visualizations of the streaming session on June 22nd, and more than 425 visualizations by end of August with comments and thanks that still continue to come to the main organizers of the event.
























WiDS Barcelona 2021 was also a space for networking and creation of alliances among the community of female Data Scientists in Barcelona. The speakers shared an invited lunch in the gardens of the UPC restaurant and (since the COVID19 measures were deactivated by the Catalan government few days before the event) an open closing cocktail was given at Barcelona Catedral Hotel where about 30 participants of WiDS Barcelona 2021 meet together to share their impressions about the event by leaving the doors open for the next edition of WiDS Barcelona 2022.

gender gap