Home » A Statistician's Life, Celebrating Women in Statistics

Amanda L. Golbeck

1 March 2019 3 Comments

Professor of Biostatistics and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Educational Background:
BA, Anthropology, Grinnell College
MA, Anthropology and Statistics, University of California at Berkeley
PhD, Biostatistics, University of California at Berkeley

About Amanda
I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I lived in an extended family household. My father owned a grocery business, and my mother was an executive secretary. I was the youngest of two children. As a girl, I asked why my older brother had certain advantages within the family. I was told it was because he was a boy. This led to my lifelong concern with gender equity.

My interests in mathematical and statistical sciences date back to secondary school. President Kennedy committed to a goal of landing a person on the moon and returning them safely to earth. This was in the early 1960s, in reaction to Sputnik. I was given an IQ test and asked questions about a series of ink blots. I was identified to be an outlier. I was put into a class where I was turned into an active learner of mathematics and science. I especially remember the pleasures of working calculus problems. I wanted to continue my studies of mathematics that would apply to the real world.

I was a first-generation college student. My parents valued education. I attended Grinnell College on a four-year honor scholarship. There wasn’t a course in statistics. One day, a professor offered to let me use a research data set. I formulated a question, determined an analytic approach, taught myself how to conduct a cluster analysis using SPSS, and analyzed the results. I became hooked on quantitative research. As a graduate student, I attended the University of California at Berkeley on a series of Regents and other fellowships. There, I studied a broad array of subjects: anthropology, demography, cognitive psychology, statistics, and biostatistics. My terminal degree was a PhD in biostatistics.

Another long-term interest is in writing and editing. I was editor-in-chief of my junior-high and high-school newspapers. I regularly contributed a column to a local newspaper. Over the past 15 years, I have pursued these interests with renewed enthusiasm. A result is two recent books.

One is an edited book that aims to inspire both women and men statisticians to identify as leaders and pursue lifelong development of their leadership competencies. The book, Leadership and Women in Statistics, is a “first” on statistics leadership. It includes many outstanding contributions that address how to incorporate leadership into our diverse roles as statisticians.

The second, Equivalence: Elizabeth L. Scott at Berkeley, is an authored book that aims to mentor statisticians via the life and work of Elizabeth L. Scott, who now has a COPSS lecture named after her. The book is a “first” about a 20th century woman statistician. It includes a microhistory of Scott’s use of statistics to promote the status of women in science. Scott was one of my academic advisers at Berkeley, and her story continues to inspire me.

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  • Janice Pauc said:

    Congrats Amanda. Long, well traveled road from Grant, Manitoba, Bell, and Hamilton.

  • Deborah E Bennett said:

    Amanda captured my attention at UC Berkeley while we were pursuing our Master’s degrees. Her thoughtful approach to problems encouraged me in my studies and made me a huge fan! I’ve kept in touch with her ever since and have been inspired by the direction of her career and the example she sets for women in science.

  • Julie A.Serstad said:

    Awesome, awesome, awesome! Congratulations! I love stats and the world it has opened for me through the years!!!