In Silence Divine Feminine Series
July 5, 2021 | 5-minute read
Angela Teng: Making an Impact through Consciousness & Technology
In this series of conversations, we are honoring the divine feminine energy that circulates all of existence. The feminine body, the womb, the nurturing and creative essence of the Mother, the Woman, the Shakti. We aim to gather wisdom from conscious women to inspire people to start their own conscious project or business in the field of technology or spirituality (or both).
Angela's work in the field of data science, her advocacies, and her mission as a young, Filipina is a great source of inspiration and education to many. She's blazing trails in the global scenes of data science and machine learning, while making space for Filipinos and emerging countries to break into these future-forward spaces through Kada Kareer, the career support platform she co-founded, and her brilliant book The Data Resource, available on Amazon.com.
Below is our interview with her on her journey.
Please describe the beautiful work that you do in the field of Data Science.
I’m currently finishing up my master's program at New York University, where I study data science with a focus on natural language processing. I’m particularly interested in using NLP for data-driven storytelling. I’ve previously worked on research with professors that focus on word embeddings and catastrophic forgetting. I have worked in the industry on applications such as sentiment analysis, text summarization, and pipeline automation. I also love working on initiatives that center on women in data science, and data science applications in emerging markets.
How did you get into this field of study/work? Did you always want to do this when you were younger, considering that you are still young and the field of Data Science is still emerging?
When I was growing up, I had a negative perception of computer science as a field. I was so distant from that academic focus that I actually didn’t even know what data science was. I initially thought that the barrier to entry to any coding-related field was too high; I was under the impression that to get started in coding, I should have had experienced since I was in grade school.
Since my high school didn’t really offer any CS-focused classes, I thought that by the time I heard about it, I was too old to join or it was too late for me to get started. In my last semester of college, I attended a hackathon on a whim. I thought I would leave the event with a bunch of free merch and good food, but I left with so much more--I left with a new perspective about computer science as a discipline, and that was also where I first heard the term “data science”.
Building with a team of students who were both equally new and excited about creating things motivated me to learn more about coding. It inspired me to find the intersection between archaeology, economics, and data science. Shortly after that, I started my first job as a risk analyst, working on machine learning models in the fraud space. After numerous online courses, I decided that I wanted to focus more on research, and eventually decided to apply to grad school.
What do you like about Data Science?
I love how data science can enable and empower positive change by sharing peoples’ stories more holistically. Moreover, I am inspired and motivated by the applications of data science in fields such as medicine, finance, education, and social impact. It’s awesome to be able to see how machine learning models can be built to detect diseases as well as predict and mitigate fraud and even flag hate speech.
There’s still a lot of opportunity for data literacy, particularly in emerging markets. Today, we’re inundated with information, and I think at a very basic level, the first step of data science is being able to understand the statistics and figures that we see in the news and media and be able to determine its validity. This is something that I believe should be taught and measured in schools, similar to how general literacy is measured and tracked.
How’s your experience being a young, Filipina in the field of Data Science living and studying in New York? Would you change anything?
The experience has been really eye-opening. I’m grateful for the opportunity to pursue education in a field I love and to live and work in my dream city. I’ve learned so much from meeting new people, being exposed to a different culture and environment, and having the chance to hone my skills to create an impact. I feel very empowered being here. As a young Filipina, I’m excited and motivated by the work that other Pinoys are doing in the field.
If I were to change anything, I would work towards more visibility for Filipinos in the tech industry. Democratizing tech education is crucial to the digital age, and seeing other Filipinos and being able to find role models in the space makes a big difference in encouraging young Pinoys to pursue a career in computer science.
You dabble in many fields and projects and you seem to energetically balance them all. How do you do it?
Thank you for that affirmation! It definitely doesn’t feel like it at the moment, but I appreciate the compliment! The three things that have worked for me are prioritizing, planning ahead, and taking breaks. Prioritization is important especially when you have competing deadlines and deliverables that could impact the team’s workflow.
Planning your timelines and workload ahead really helps. Whether that’s a daily plan, weekly plan, or a monthly plan. Just so you’re aware if you have the bandwidth to take on more work or if you need to lessen your commitments on a certain project during a given time. Lastly, but definitely underrated, is taking breaks. It’s hard to work and be productive when you’re burnt out. Know the signs of burnout and also make sure to give yourself time to rest. Celebrate wins no matter how small they seem.
How do you remain centered and grounded in the middle of all your studies, work, personal projects, family, social life? How do these practices help your work in technology, writing your book, and leading communities?
I’m trying to get into yoga, but it’s a constant learning process. In terms of spirituality, I am Catholic, so one of the ways I keep myself grounded is through prayer. Prayer helps me recenter, focus on my goals, and the impact I’d like to have. It’s helped me shift my thinking from, “what job do I want to have?” to “what kind of impact do I want to have?” and “who do I want to help?”.
The youth group in my church has bi-weekly prayer meetings. This community is something that’s been so integral and has helped me through the best and toughest times both in my personal and professional journey. In terms of how this perspective has helped in my work, I’d highlight two major points of impact: the first being support and empowerment, and the second being perspective.
What does “Divine Feminine Energy” mean to you and what do you think is its role in this day and age? What do humans need to do to honor this energy among us?
Divine feminine energy for me means embracing your agency and using it to empower not just yourself, but others around you. It’s using your talent, privilege, and skills to innovate creative solutions to pressing problems, no matter how big or small. It’s respecting your feminine qualities, tapping into your intuition, and acknowledging that this resides within each of us. It’s paying reverence to the inherent balance present and necessary in nature. It’s understanding that we’re all intrinsically connected, and being aware and cognizant of how our actions and behaviors affect those around us.
Do you think there is an intersection where big technology and spirituality collide, that helps uplift people’s lives? If there’s none, how do you think they affect each other in moving human lives onwards and upwards?
In the age of technology, we’re now more intertwined than ever--with social media and the internet making it easier to stay connected. In an era where the increasing rate of globalization has blurred the lines between online and offline relationships, our actions now have an exponential effect on communities that we may not be aware we’re influencing.
Consciousness and appreciation of these interrelated outcomes is pivotal in helping us create the positive impact we want to see. In particular, we see this intersection between big tech and spirituality that drives us to make ethical decisions about applications of machine learning, computer science, and data science.
What would you like to say to our audience when it comes to using technology and spirituality to tap into the divine feminine energy, to help heal themselves, their relationships, and the world?
Find your why and define your impact, create a supportive culture and empower your stakeholders, customers, and colleagues, and lastly, be cognizant of downstream impact and recognize systemic inequities.
What’s your advice to young women who aspire to follow in your footsteps of studying in a foreign land, entering data science, writing a book, and leading tech communities through your writing, mentorship, and creative projects?
The three things that greatly helped me in my journey are having the courage to just start, finding a support system, and defining your north star. I think one of the most underrated pieces of advice that I’ve heard is to just have the courage to go for it and start--build that project, start that blog, and create that community.
Oftentimes, there’s an assumption that we have to be the best at something to have an impact on the field, but I found that documenting your learning process is just as helpful and impactful. Secondly, having a support system really helps--whether that be your family, friends, church, or spiritual community. Lastly, defining what direction you want to go and what purpose you have when building has helped me stay grounded in my values and ensure that the communities and projects I build are serving the right intentions.
Do you have any other messages for our readers that you would like to share?
I’m really grateful to have this opportunity to share what I’ve learned with you and to continue learning on this journey with you! If you’d like to connect or chat, you can reach me via Twitter @ambervteng. If there’s anything I can do to support you or your projects, I’d be more than happy to be a resource.
Our heartfelt gratitude to Angela for allowing us to interview her, so that we may share her phenomenal journey to the world.