Women in Digital and Computational Spaces: Meet Cosima Meyer

Today our spotlight shines on Cosima Meyer. Cosima is a senior data scientist at IBM and member of R-Ladies.

In short

πŸ“½οΈ What is your all time favourite movie and what makes it so special?

Soul Kitchen, because it’s about a beautiful city (Hamburg) and good food – a perfect combination!

🎞️ Soul Kitchen Trailer

πŸ“š Can you describe your background and your current role?

What line of work are you in?

I work in the IT sector where I train machine learning models and make them explainable.

Give a short summary of what you do in this role

As a data scientist, I work with different types of data (both structured and unstructured) to build products that help automate tasks and support people in their daily lives. I enjoy the variety that comes with the job because no two questions are the same and you always have to be creative with the solutions you come up with.

What did you study?

I studied political science with a focus on conflict studies and statistics.

How did you get involved in the tech space?

By developing my first open-source software and getting involved in the communities (mainly R-Ladies and PyLadies). It showed me that building tools that can help people in their lives is what I love to do.

What software do you use on a daily basis in your job?

I mainly use Python for programming these days, but have also worked as a data scientist and data engineer using R (and SQL, of course). Depending on the requirements, I develop things in the cloud (mainly AWS or Google Cloud Platforms) or locally.

How did you learn to use these tools?

By doing. I start by reading about the basics to get some theoretical understanding, but I learn best by doing. Developing my first R package, for example, taught me so much that I could never have learned just from a textbook. It always helps to have a reliable resource to look things up, but since the challenges are always different, it’s the practice that teaches me the most.

Which tool has the biggest impact on your ability to succeed at work?

I think it’s a combination of curiosity, creativity and persistence. Some problems seem unsolvable at first, but if you’re persistent (and have a great team to discuss things with), you’ll eventually come up with a creative solution 😊.

Do you think women are well represented in your line of work?

Tech has traditionally been a male-dominated industry. And while I’d definitely like to see more diversity, I’m convinced that we’re on the right track to making it a good place for everyone 😊

🌱 Tell us more about your community of practice

Describe the purpose of this community from your point of view.

R-Ladies is an empowering community that aims to promote gender diversity in the R community worldwide. Whether it’s a virtual or in-person meetup, an inspiring discussion in our Slack workspace, or meeting other R-Ladies at a conference - it’s all about coming together, learning, and having fun 😊

How did you get involved?

I discovered R-Ladies in 2020 when all the events were online and R-Ladies Bergen was hosting an event about building a website. I thought “hey, that sounds interesting” and signed up. Julia, one of the organizers of R-Ladies Bergen, contacted me and asked if I would like to present at one of their upcoming meetings and although I was hesitant at first, I agreed and gave a workshop on using NLP models. The supportive atmosphere I experienced encouraged me to start a local chapter, R-Ladies Cologne, because I wanted to give back to the community what I had experienced 😊

Why do you find it useful to be a part of this community?

It’s the supportive atmosphere that I really enjoy - and this really is the place where you can ask any question. Everyone has been a beginner and the people in the community are happy to help and let you learn!

Is your community accessible and welcoming to women? If so, how?

A definite yes! R-Ladies' core vision is to empower gender diversity (not just women, but all gender minorities) and we are constantly working to improve things to become more accessible.

How can other people become a part of this community?

It’s easy – reach out, join our Slack workspace, the directory (a list that showcases R-Ladies’ profiles), or one of our meetings! https://rladies.org/about-us/involved/

What other communities of practice are you a part of?

PyLadies, Google’s Women Techmakers Ambassadors, and CorrelAid (a nonprofit data for good organization)

πŸ’‘ What advice do you have for women in Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) eager to grow their computational skills?

It’s an old one, but “stay curious”. The best ideas come from thinking outside the box and borrowing from other disciplines.