Aseel Al-Mesad is a WiDS Ambassador in Kuwait City where she is also the organization manager for the Women Data Community (WDC). Being a WiDS Ambassador has expanded Aseel’s skills, confidence and professional network, and deepened her commitment to empower women in data science.
Aseel Al-Mesad, The Public Authority of Applied Education & Training (PAAET)
● Tell us about your background.
I was raised in a family that was very interested in science and education, and they always motivated me to excel in my studies. I went to the public schools and I was always an A student. When I entered the College of Engineering and Petroleum at Kuwait University, my studies were challenging because I got married and I had my first child at that time. I was able to succeed because of the support of my mother and my sisters-in-law that took care of my son while I was studying. That kind of support from women has motivated me to want to support other women.
● How did you get interested in data science?
I’m always working on developing my technical and scientific skills. I read a lot of websites and sources specialized in technology and data science. I also enrich my knowledge by attending conferences and taking online courses.
● How did you first discover WiDS?
The first time I discovered WiDS was a post from a Saudi university professor and WiDS Riyadh ambassador about her WiDS event. I watched part of the Stanford WiDS event online, and other videos. I couldn’t see the Riyadh conference, but the Riyadh ambassador inspired me with the kind of information posted through their Twitter accounts about data science and WiDS.
● Have you been involved with WiDS since that first experience? If so, in what way?
I wanted to bring the WiDS event to Kuwait. At the time I was also working on establishing the Women Data Community (WDC) to spread awareness about data science so my work was very consistent with the WiDS event.
Once I received the acceptance letter to be the Kuwait WiDS ambassador in December, I started preparations for the event. I started looking for women data scientists in Kuwait and exploring their work. I talked with many women about speaking at the event. A lot of work needed to be done in a short time — finding speakers, getting approvals, organizing a team for the preparations, and looking for sponsors.
Through the process, I discovered a tremendous power that I enjoyed, my ability to organize a big event and get people to attend in record time. The most important thing was being able to appreciate my own abilities and what I was able to accomplish.
● How has WiDS made an impact on your life and/ or work?
WiDS has helped me shape my future goals more precisely and improve my communication and public relations skills. It helped me be able to introduce myself and talk about my achievements with a strong and confident voice.
The WiDS event was a rich experience that benefited me a lot. I enjoy being around a distinguished group of experienced women from around the world. The experience made me discover something special about myself that I did not know before. Empowering myself is a great achievement and this motivates me to empower others.
● What comes next for you? And what are your hopes for women in the data science in the future?
I am currently working in the field of vocational education as a Specialist Trainer at the Higher Institute of Administrative Services (for girls) in The Public Authority of Applied Education & Training (PAAET) in Kuwait City.
My current job provides me a chance to empower and motivate students to develop their skills and abilities. I am able to develop new training programs that fit to the requirements of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” in Kuwait and future programs in the field of data science and artificial intelligence. I have successfully introduced a new training program related to data entry and registration. My next ambition is to develop the program in data mining and analysis.
I will also continue my volunteer work through the Women Data Community. I intend to establish a business accelerator to encourage and support women’s technical projects, and help them accelerate careers in data science and AI fields.
My goal is to empower women in data science. Many women told me that data science is a new and difficult field to learn right now. They tell me it’s hard to start learning again after graduating from university over 10 years ago, and on top of other responsibilities and work. But I say with confidence that every woman is able to learn and each has rich abilities, she just may not know about her potential yet. My advice is to work hard and discover your potential.