Toronto Womxn in Data Science’s vision is to inspire and empower 1 million data-literate womxn, increase the recruitment and retention of womxn in data professions, and encourage innovation in this space. Here the founder Kishawna Peck talks about how she start Toronto Womxn and plans ahead in 2022.
How and when did you start this business? Please share your growth story.
I was a sole data professional in a department looking for professional development courses and conferences to attend. I stumbled on a conference for women in data but there was no presence in Toronto. I thought to myself that someone should do this.
Within a few minutes, I convinced myself that I should plan the conference. I planned the conference in 6 weeks- while also having a pre-planned trip to Mexico. It felt so exciting getting everything prepared and also having the support of my community and sponsors. The conference was sold out and has been every year since.
As I sat at the volunteer table of the first conference, I noticed that the room wasn’t as diverse as I would have expected. I committed to focusing on intersectionality and inclusion both on and off the stage since then. Our mission is to enable a million women to become data literate. We are committed to partnering with organizations where women can thrive. We’ve expanded our programming past our flagship conference to include data literacy programs, a podcast, job board, and fellowship program. We’ve also started data consulting with some of our partners.
Tell us the products and services you offer.
- Annual conference
- Data Literacy programs
- Job board
- Data Strategy Consulting
- Data Talent Consulting
What were the initial difficulties you faced?
- Corporate sponsorship with value-aligned organizations – still a struggle
- Many organizations have a commitment to D&I but there’s not always follow-through
How did you maneuver your business during 2020-2021? Kindly list a few learnings.
We had our last event the week before the world went into lockdown. There were many unknowns of how we would operate since we were mainly an event business. The pandemic gave us the opportunity to reimagine how we engage with our audience and how we can reach our mission of empowering a million women to become data literate.
We learned how to navigate the online landscape for events, how to provide beneficial partnerships to our partners especially with the refined focus on diversity and inclusion, and how to produce engaging events and resources online. We learned over and over that change is a constant thing and in order to survive as an organization, we had to adapt and dig our heels in if we were serious about attaining our mission.
How did you hear about Visa Canada’s She’s Next Grant Program?
I was a part of the Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network Investment Readiness program. They shared an abundance of resources and iFundWomen was one of them. It’s from there that I learned about Visa Canada’s partnership with iFundWomen and the She’s Next Grant Program. I decided to give it a shot. This is the first grant I’ve ever received.
Kindly tell us about your plans for 2022.
In the Spring we have a datathon, our 5th annual conference, and our first women in data awards coming up. We’re launching our inclusive data fellowship program in the fall.
Any words of wisdom for young entrepreneurs?
Allow yourself to dream big then start to map out how to get there. Don’t limit yourself to what you see already available.
For more info kindly visit: www.womxndsto.com
@womxndsto on all socials
All pictures courtesy: Toronto Womxn in Data Science
This Story is authored by Yugbodh, Onside Media, Toronto, Canada. If you have stories to share kindly email: – [email protected]