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Review: Women in Statistics and Data Science: Past, Present, & Future

By Altea Lorenzo-Arribas (YSS), Cecilia Lanata-Briones (RSS History Section) & Lucy Teece (YSS), organisers of the event.

Video recording of the Women in Statistics event at the Royal Statistical Society.

On the 8th March we gathered at the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) in London to celebrate International Women’s Day and specifically Women in Statistics and Data Science by highlighting progress through the history of the discipline.

“Past of Stats & Data Science” speaker: Dr Linda Wijlaars

Dr Linda Wijlaars (University College London) started the talks by focusing on the Past of Statistics and introducing the fascinating life of Dr Janet Elizabeth Lane-Claypon. Lane-Claypon was a pioneer in epidemiology who 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.

“Present of Stats & Data Science” speaker: Prof Deborah Ashby

RSS President, Professor Deborah Ashby (Imperial College London), examined the Present situation of women in statistics and data science. She focused on the current representation of women fellows, award winners and presidents in the RSS and other organisations worldwide. She also highlighted the achievements of many influential women working in the field of statistics and data science, and inspired the audience with stories of the women that have supported her through her career.

“Future of Stats & Data Science” panel: Maria Skoularidou, Fatima Batool, Dr Susan Lovick & Dr Lauren Rodgers.

The last session looked at the Future of the profession with the help of a great panel of four women working in statistics and data science both in industry and academia. Dr Susan Lovick (Phastar) described her own experience as a woman in statistics and the great supportive environment she has found at Phastar. Dr Lauren Rodgers (University of Exeter) described the great support, events and grants offered by the Women in Mathematics Committee of the London Mathematical Society to encourage diversity and inclusivity in the field. Fatima Batool (University College London) concentrated on her role as ambassador of the Women in Data Science programme, emphasising the depth of data science and the evergrowing diversity in the field. The last speaker of this session, Maria Skoularidou (University of Cambridge) introduced the RSS’s newly formed Women in Data Science and Statistics Special Interest Group .

The talks were followed by a wine reception sponsored by Phastar that encouraged great networking.

You can find the slides from the event below:

Finally, for an overview of the fascinating Twitter discussion generated around this event check out the following link:

Professor Deborah Ashby said she had “never seen so many women in the RSS HQ” and now we can’t wait to meet even more of you next year!

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