Tomi Mori is the 2021 President of the Caucus for Women in Statistics. She is a Professor in the Department of Biostatistics at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN. She writes:
2021 is the 50th anniversary of the Caucus for Women in Statistics (CWS), an international professional statistical society formed in 1971 with the mission to advance the careers of women statisticians through advocacy, shared resources and learning opportunities, increasing their professional participation and visibility, and promoting research that impacts women statisticians around the world.
I recently had the honor of interviewing Donna Brogan, our founding president, as a part of the 50th anniversary past president interview project. She recounted the amusing story of how CWS began in a women’s bathroom. As a young and aspiring female statistician with the big idea of forming a women’s statistician group, Brogan decided to place a flyer in the women’s bathroom asking people to come to her hotel room to brainstorm at the 1969 annual ASA meeting in New York City. About ten women showed up, agreed to collaborate in the creation of an advocacy group for women in statistics, and worked together to fulfill this goal during the next two years. With no internet or email, most of the preparatory work was undertaken through handwritten letters and face-to-face meetings at annual ASA meetings. In 1971 the Caucus for Women in Statistics was officially established, recognized by the ASA, and permitted to organize a scientific session during annual meetings. Donna Brogan served as the first CWS President from 1971–73.
Some of the most notable CWS achievements over the years include co-sponsorship with the ASA Committee on Women in Statistics to establish and begin to offer the Gertrude M. Cox Scholarship in 1989, the Florence Nightingale David Award in 2001 given by the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies (COPSS), and special lectures given by awardees of the Elizabeth L. Scott Award and F.N. David Award in 2018. CWS has also collaborated with many professional societies, including ASA, IMS, the Statistical Society of Canada, the International Biometric Society, the International Chinese Statistical Association, the International Indian Statistical Association, the Korean International Statistical Society, and, more recently, Women in Machine Learning. Over the years CWS has built a network of more than 300 students and professional statisticians in addition to co-founding the Women in Statistics and Data Science Conference (WSDS).
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of CWS, we are planning a variety of events including a virtual conference, invited sessions at the Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) and the Women in Statistics and Data Science (WSDS) conference, a special CWS event at JSM and WSDS, and CWS giving day. We also host the monthly Madam Presidents Happy Hour, which takes place over Zoom on the fourth Thursday of each month from 3–4 p.m. ET. It is open to everyone regardless of CWS membership and allows those who participate to meet, and learn from the experiences of past CWS presidents. We also produced the CWS Past Presidents Interview Series on YouTube.