Mothers and Machine Learning

This 6-week Machine Learning (ML) course is designed to tap into the talent of stay-at-home caregivers and mothers on maternity leave to facilitate their participation in the rapidly growing field of artificial intelligence (AI). It is an introduction to core concepts in ML with applications in computer vision and natural language processing. This course is developed and delivered by faculty and staff at the Vector Institute and includes funds generously provided by Google TensorFlow to help cover the cost of child care.

Course Schedule

  • The course runs from March 14, 2022 – April 20, 2022 (6 weeks).
  • Lectures are held on Mondays from 10am-12pm ET.
  • Tutorials are held on Wednesdays from 10am – 12pm ET.
  • The course is designed to be completed in 8 hours per week.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to explain key ML concepts and identify use cases and applications. Students will develop a baseline understanding of machine learning methods and how they can produce value for an organization, enabling them to make recommendations for new technologies and solutions. This course will also emphasize ethics and responsible use of AI.

Proposed Content

  • Supervised learning: k-nearest neighbors and decision trees, linear regression, logistic and softmax regression, neural networks, convolutional neural networks for image classification, text classification, and NLP applications.
  • Unsupervised learning: probabilistic models, principal component analysis and relation to K-means, matrix factorization, and expectation maximization.
  • Introduction to reinforcement learning.
  • Fairness in AI.
  • Keynote presentations by women leaders in AI and related networking opportunities.


Juan Felipe Carrasquilla Álvarez
Faculty Member, Vector Institute
Adjunct Faculty, University of Waterloo
Canada CIFAR AI chair


This course will be delivered in two sessions per week:

1. A lecture format to cover basic theory, and

2. A tutorial format that includes practical coding exercises.

All sessions will be delivered live, and recordings of those sessions will be made available.


In order to receive a certificate of completion, students must:

  • Attend 80% of the lectures, and
  • Turn in assignments including theoretical exercises, practical coding, and/or reports.

Intended Audience

Mothers and primary caregivers interested in acquiring skills in Machine Learning.

Level of Training


Suggested Prerequisites

  • Basic understanding of linear algebra, calculus, and probability. (E.g. 1st year University mathematics, including matrix multiplication, vectors, first order derivatives, linear regression, probability distributions)
  • Basic coding skills. (E.g. experience programming in any language, including creating variables, importing libraries, basic arithmetic operations, loops, conditional statements, functions. A review of Python basics can be completed here).

Proposed Financial Arrangements

This course is fully funded by Vector Institute’s supporters, and includes a child care bursary of $500 funded by a generous contribution from Google.

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