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ISI Committee on Women in Statistics


Summary of Committee on Women in Statistics Networking Event & Roundtable Discussions from the ISI Dublin WSC 2011

This article summarises the Roundtable discussions held during the Women in Statistics networking event at the ISI World Statistics Congress in Dublin in August 2011.


The ISI Committee on Women in Statistics (CWS) was formed to:

  1. Promote and strengthen the representation of women statisticians in the ISI and its Associations;
  2. Help in providing opportunities for women members to assume active and visible roles in the ISI and other statistical associations;
  3. Collect information on women in statistical professions in different countries and to facilitate the flow of information among women statisticians;
  4. Stimulate interest in statistics among women and encourage women in schools and colleges to study statistics;
  5. Support the compilation of statistics on women, with a view to generating relevant studies concerning womens’ roles in the various activities in their countries.


During the ISI Dublin WSC, the Committee on Women in Statistics hosted a Roundtable discussion event where groups of women, divided according to their particular statistical interests (e.g. Government statisticians, Survey statisticians, Environmental statistics), debated these five issues.


Some common ideas emerged across the groups.  For example, a strong theme was the need for younger women (and men) to be guided and mentored in the early stages of their statistical careers, whether that was in academia, government or industry. In academia, this could be ways of getting a promotion and tenure and publishing research in good journals; in Government statistics the issue was what makes a good role model, whereas in industry the emphasis was on gaining professional experience and qualifications.


A related theme was the requirement for good role models and organised events for high school students to encourage more girls into statistics. It was felt important to invalidate the stereotype that men are better at mathematics and statistics and that potentially this could be achieved by introducing girls to successful female statisticians as role models and in explaining the role statistics has in many other subjects and applications.


Many groups felt that more women should become members of the ISI and that, both as individual women and through the Committee, we should encourage more to do so.  Ideas for women in statistics to network more easily (which is considered important) included establishing a place on the ISI website to post and exchange information, participating in a professional networking site, having more networking events at the ISI WSCs, being involved with a national or international statistical or professional organisation.  However, it was felt that more could be done to promote the ISI and similar bodies in our own workplaces.


Participants described the Roundtable discussions as both useful and fun. The success of this event was due to its conception and organisation by Cynthia Clark, then CWS Chair, and Martha Farrar, Webmaster. More details of the Roundtable discussions can be found at www.nass.usda.gov/cws.


If you are inspired to take a more active role in the ISI Committee on Women in Statistics, in particular if you have ideas for Special Topic Sessions at the next ISI World Statistics Congress in 2013, please contact the current Chair, Penny Bidgood at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Penny Bidgood

Chair, ISI Committee on Women in Statistics