History of Statistics and YSS joint meeting: Women in statistics

The meeting 'Women in Statistics: Past, present and future' took place on International Women’s Day (Friday 8 March) 2019 at the Royal Statistical Society. It was co-organised between the History of Statistics Section and the Young Statisticians Section, and was followed by a wine reception sponsored by Phastar. The event was divided in three parts: past, present, and future.

Dr Linda Wijlaars (University College London) focused on the past and presented the life of Dr Janet Elizabeth Lane-Claypon, a pioneer in epidemiology. In 1912, Lane-Claypon published a Report to the Local Government Board upon the Available Data in Regard to the Value of Boiled Milk as a Food for Infants and Young Animals. In it, Lane-Claypon compares the weights of infants fed on breast and cows' milk to find out whether the type of milk had an effect on how fast babies grew. To answer this question she conducted the first major retrospective cohort study, which included a description of confounding, and the first use of the t-test outside of the Guinness factory.

RSS President, Professor Deborah Ashby (Imperial College London), examined the present situation of women in statistics. She focused on the current representation of women fellows, award winners and presidents in the RSS. Moreover, she highlighted the achievements of many influential women working in the field of statistics and data science, and enlightened the audience with stories of the women that inspire her.

The event ended looking to the future, with a panel of four women who work in statistics and data science. Dr Lauren Rodgers (University of Exeter) described the events and grants offered by the London Mathematical Society to encourage diversity in the field. Dr Susan Lovick (Phastar) described her own experience as a woman in statistics, focusing on her work at Phastar. Fatima Batool (University College London) concentrated on women in data science, emphasising the depth and diversity of data science. Lastly, Maria Skoularidou (University of Cambridge) commented on the RSS’s newly formed Women in Data Science and Statistics Special Interest Group.

A video of the event can be found on the Royal Statistical Society's YouTube channel.

Read more about the event and view the presenter slides on the Young Statisticians' section website.

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