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Celebrating Women in Statistics and Data Science Conference

1 December 2016 528 views No Comment

Photos courtesy of Sara Davidson, ASA Graphic Designer/Production Coordinator

Dalene Stangl, Donna LaLonde, and Jiayang Sun

    The second Women in Statistics and Data Science Conference was held October 20–22 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The conference targeted women in all career stages from all sectors of the workforce.

    Four hundred enthusiastic participants joined together to share technical expertise, wisdom from life experiences, and words of inspiration. Most pronounced were women sharing transformative moments in their lives and demonstrating how these moments led to greater visibility and stature of their individual careers as well as those of other women in statistics and data science. This was perhaps most visible during the speed mentoring session, in which graduate students and early-career women were able to receive advice and encouragement from their more experienced colleagues.

    The conference spotlighted the contributions of women to statistics and data science, past and present. Three recurring themes woven throughout the conference were the importance of influence, community, and knowledge.

    The conference began with two short courses, one by Heike Hoffman on reproducibility in science and a second by Jennifer Van Mullekom on effective presentations. Four keynotes by Cynthia Clark, Stacy Lindborg, Wendy Martinez, and Bin Yu covered topics ranging from leaving a legacy, navigating an authentic career, Big Data challenges at federal statistical agencies, and a holistic approach to interdisciplinary research. Donna Brogan brought a historical and amusing perspective to the conference when she reflected upon discrimination hurdles she both jumped and put to rest. Mary Gray also took participants on a historical recounting of U.S. laws to counter gender discrimination.

    Technical sessions traversed a wide range of topics. One session titled “Advancing ‘Omics Data Analysis” featured Susmita Datta, Rebecca Doerge, and Xihong Lin. Jane-Ling Wang talked on “A Bridge Between High-Dimensional and Functional Data.” Nicole Lazar spoke about “Topological Data Analysis for Functional Neuroimaging.” Jiayang Sun discussed recent developments in “Statistical Interface with Computer Science for Data Science.”

    Jim Balcom wrote “A Man’s Report from the Women in Statistics and Data Science Conference.” To view his report, visit his LinkedIn blog.

    Mary Meyer hammered out “Practical Applications of Estimation and Inference with Shape Restrictions.” Linda Zhao enlightened the audience with “Post-Model Selection Inference and the R Package.” A group from AT&T that included Emily Dodwell, Zhengyi Zhou, and Cheryl Flynn covered “Big Data Research at AT&T Labs.” Women from Google—including Amy Richardson, Sushma Honnavara Prasad, and Valerie Hines—pitched in on both technical and professional development topics. More than 100 women shared technical expertise via speed poster sessions led by Mia Stephens, Jenise Swall, Jessica Kolschmidt, Dong-Yun Kim, and Rebecca Carter.

    Professional development panels were plentiful. Nancy Reid, Kathryn Roeder, Kim-Ahn Do, and Jane Pendergast spoke about leadership. Arlene Ash guided participants toward more effective communication. Emma Benn, Maria Garcia, Meghan Kellam, and Kimberly Sellers led a panel on overcoming implicit bias. Nancy Geller and Karen Bandeen-Roche covered navigating up from disappointment, while Michelle Dunn, Nancy Flournoy, and Donna LaLonde discussed forging your path: turns and detours. Participants were encouraged to take on leadership roles by a panel of ASA presidents that included Lynne Billard, Mary Ellen Bock, Nancy Geller, Sally Morton, and Jessica Utts.

    The conference concluded with the presentation of travel awards by the selection committee, Kimberly Sellers and Saki Kinney, and a dinner speech by Dalene Stangl that encouraged women to replace their standards of perfection with ones of courage and to play their career as a game of “Truth AND Dare.”

    The program can be viewed on the ASA website.

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