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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!


Statisticians on Tour to the Liverpool Early Career Researchers Conference 2019

By Sarah Nevitt (RSS Medical Section and Young Statisticians Section (YSS))

The University of Liverpool was the host of the inaugural Early Career Researchers Conference 2019 bringing together early career researchers in Data Science, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. The Royal Statistical Society (RSS) were sponsors of the conference, and three Liverpool based volunteers who are active volunteers with the RSS, as well as statistical and STEM ambassadors coordinated a special afternoon showcasing the RSS and ‘Hands on Statistics’ outreach activities.

Sarah Nevitt (RSS Medical Section and Young Statisticians Section (YSS)) firstly introduced the ‘Who, What, When, Where and Why?’ of the RSS; including the work of the RSS promoting the importance of data and statistics for the public good, getting involved with the RSS by becoming a member, attending section and local group events, the professional accreditations and training courses offered by the RSS as well as volunteering opportunities. Especially relevant for this conference of Early Career researchers in Data Science, Sarah also highlighted the work of the YSS including careers events, young statistician conferences, the RSS Statistical Excellence Award for Early Career Writingand how to keep in touch with YSS, especially on social media.

Laura Bonnett (RSS Education and Statistical Literacy committee and Teaching Statistics Special Interest Group), then lead an interactive afternoon of ‘Hands on Statistics’ demonstrating a range of different activities developed by the RSS Education and Statistical Literacy committee. These activities demonstrate a range of statistical concepts including probability, distributions, populations, sampling, means, standard errors, confidence intervals, as well as some more complex concepts such as simulation studies, random walks, Kruskals counts, Pollard’s Kangaroo and Capture-Recapture in a fun and interactive way using playing cards, dice, meerkats, penguins, ducks and Usain Bolt. The conference attendees then had a chance to develop and demonstrate some ‘Hands on Statistics activities’ of their own using our bank of statistical resources. Some excellent animal themed activities were developed including ‘Elephant Scales’ demonstrating Bayesian methods, distributions and iteration using stuffed elephants and ‘Count the poo, find the wombat’s blue,’ building on the concepts of populations and samples and also demonstrating the importance of sample size. The winning ‘Hands on Statistics activity’ of the afternoon was ‘Can you guess the colour?’, ademonstration and clear explanation of Bayesian methods and probability with playing cards. We shall certainly be taking some of these excellent ideas with us to careers fairs in the future!

Maria Sudell (RSS Merseyside Local Group) rounded up a great afternoon by sharing her experiences of being a STEM ambassador for the last four years, as well as some great tips for running outreach activities and details of how to sign up as a STEM ambassador.

We hope to have inspired many new RSS members and STEM ambassadors to try out some of our ‘Hands on Statistics’ activities and provided the encouragement to develop some outreach activities of their own!

Writing Competition Webinar (2:30pm 10th April)

If you are thinking of submitting an entry for the 2019 Statistical Excellence Award for Early Career Writing, we invite you to join our upcoming webinar for tips and advice on crafting an award-worthy article.

Our two speakers are:

  • Significance editor Brian Tarran, who will give an overview of the competition and offer guidance on writing an article that meets the expectations of the 2019 judging panel; and
  • 2018 award winner Letisha Smith, who will share her personal experience of the competition, from idea generation, to researching and writing her article, to presenting at the 2018 RSS International Conference.

Talks will be followed by a Q&A session, hosted by Sarah Nevitt of the Royal Statistical Society’s Young Statisticians Section.

The webinar takes place at 2.30pm (UK time) on Wednesday, 10 April 2019.

To join the webinar, either connect through Skype for Business (web or desktop app), or dial-in using the details below:
From UK: +44 (0)20 3321 5256
From overseas: Find local number
Conference ID: 5341 3870 #

We hope you are able to join us. If you have any questions about the webinar, or would like to ask a question for the webinar in advance, please email Significance.

Review: PSI Medical Statistics Careers Event

20th February 2019, The Venue @ DeMontfort University, Leicester, review by Sarah Nevitt (RSS Medical Section and YSS)

Ready and prepared with a badge for everyone, the Royal Statistical Society was represented at the annual PSI Medical Statistics Careers event by Sarah Nevitt (RSS Medical Section and Young Statistician’s Section) and Lucy Teece (Young Statistician’s Section).

Over 120 students from Mathematics and Statistics affiliated degree courses, attended a special afternoon showcasing career opportunities within Medical Statistics.

The event was organised by the Careers and Academic Liaison Committee of Statisticians in the Pharmaceutical Industry (PSI CALC) and 29 exhibitors attended from a range of pharmaceutical companies, clinical research organisations (CRO), clinical trials units, universities, regulatory agencies and professional societies.

Throughout the day, attendees learned all about the roles of medical statisticians across a diverse range of organisations from a panel of pharmaceutical, CRO and academic representatives, including a familiar face in an RSS t-shirt! My fellow panellists and I shared the best and most challenging parts of our roles, most nerve wracking moments, proudest achievements, our most interesting work travel experiences, most unusual project as well as our key advice for students starting off in their medical statistics career. Students also gained from the first hand experience of a new-starter in the field of medical statistics and received invaluable advice on job searching, applications and interviews.

The visitors to the Royal Statistical Society exhibitor stand were interested to hear the benefits of e-student or student fellow membership of the RSS, as well as the work of the YSS and of the Medical Section. In fact, many visitors were already RSS members, had attended previous RSS events or were students of GradStat accredited courses!

We wish all of the attendees well within their degree courses and their future careers and we look forward to welcoming many more new starters into the world of Medical Statistics.

Catch-up with the YSS Bulletin!

We’ve just released the first YSS Bulletin of 2019 – a quick guide to the activities the Young Statisticians Section are planning and promoting this year!

For example, did you know that the 2019 RSS Award for Early Career Writing Competition – organised jointly with Significance Magazine – is open for applications?

Or that we’re hosting an event to celebrate women in statistics and data science on International Womens Day 2019?

Check out the Bulletin to find out more!

RSS Travel Grant for “Women in Statistics” event

Click on our Poster for more information

The Royal Statistical Society will fund the travel costs of an early career statistician or data scientist to attend the “Women in Statistics: Past, Present, & Future” event held on Friday 8th March in London.


Applicants must:

  • be within the first 10 years of their career.
  • identify as female, non-binary, or trans.
  • be travelling from within the UK & Ireland.

Please note this grant is intended to cover the costs of travel only. Applicants should not apply for subsistence or accommodation expenses. Expenses must be claimed in line with the RSS Guidelines for Claiming Expenses. Only one entry per applicant will be accepted.

How to Apply

Please complete the survey in the link below before 12:00 on Tuesday 5th March 2019.
The winner will be decided by a random draw and will be announced at 16:00 on Tuesday 5th March 2019.

Event registration

Registration for the Women in statistics: Past, Present, & Future event FREE but pre-registration is required, please register using the link below:

Statistical Excellence Award for Early-Career Writing Competition


Are you an early-career statistician with a statistical story to tell? If so, we invite you to enter the 2019 Statistical Excellence Award for Early-Career Writing. The competition is jointly organised by Significance and the Young Statisticians Section of the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) and forms part of the RSS Statistical Excellence Awards programme.

The competition is open to:
1. Students currently studying for a first degree, Master’s or PhD in statistics or related subjects.
2. Graduates whose last qualification in statistics or related subjects (whether first degree, Master’s or PhD) was not more than five years ago.

The rules of entry are simple: send us your best statistical writing in the form of a magazine article (1,500 to 2,500 words) on any subject you like.

What should you write about?

Successful submissions from past years were based on original analyses, produced specifically for the competition. This does take work, but it often results in a unique and compelling article. A list of published articles from previous years’ competitions can be found on the Significance website.
You might also write about work you have done as part of your studies or during your career.
You can also write about the work of others, but this must be in the form of a critique or wider overview of a subject area.

Whatever you choose to write about, articles must be engaging and easy to read. Significance is published for a broad audience, so accessibility is key. This means technical terms and mathematics must be kept to a minimum and explained clearly where used.

The competition is open until 27 May 2019.

Three finalists will be selected in June, with the winner announced in July at the RSS Statistical Excellence Awards ceremony. The winning article will be published in the October issue of Significance and online at Runners-up may also be published online or in print at the editor’s discretion. Finalists will be invited to give presentations based on their articles at a special session of the RSS International Conference (2–5 September 2019 in Belfast).

How to enter:

Email your submissions as a text/Word file, or as a PDF, to Make sure to include our competition entry form.

Please help promote the competition in your statistics department or workplace. Download the official poster.

The competition rules and guidelines can be found on Significance Magazine website.

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