To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020, we asked some of our OSR team about working in the world of statistics and what International Women’s Day means to them…
Liddy Brankley – Statistics Regulator, Population and Society
I’m interested in understanding the world around me, particularly the society we live in and the issues that affect our society and the people living in it. I’m passionate about working at Office for Statistics Regulation because I want statistics to reflect the key societal issues people are interested in so they can be used to help people make informed decisions about their own lives.
During the 2019 General Election, I coordinated reviewing the statistics referenced in each of the main political parties’ manifestos, and kept an eye on speeches and social media for potentially misleading representations of official statistics. I’m proud of how quickly we were able to review each case, form a judgement and put out a statement to clarify the appropriate interpretation of the statistics, which hopefully helped voters to make informed decisions at the polls.
International Women’s Day for me, is a reminder to recognise and applaud the everyday hard work, resilience, and kindness of women and girls around the world. It’s a chance to think about the vital roles women play in our society and how often this has been and continues to be underappreciated and overlooked. International Women’s Day is a celebration of all the wonderful, complex women out there. It’s also a call to action on the unique but systemic issues women face today and every day.
Nisha Bunting – Statistics Regulator, Education
Working in statistics wasn’t really a conscious decision but more just the career path I happened to follow! I have a Masters in Information Science and after several roles in information and planning, I found myself developing and managing Performance Indicators in roadworks! Since working at OSR I have been working on a review: Exploring the public value of statistics about Post 16 Education and Skills across the UK as well as the varied attainment and destinations of school leavers across the UK. It’s great to feel that you have contributed to getting organisations working in partnership to achieve a common goal.
I think it is really important that girls realise and are encouraged that they can be anything they want regardless not only of their gender, but also of their background and status. This is something that should be high on a schools’ agenda as well as from the external influences that affect them.
Gail Rankin – Head of Edinburgh Office and Systemic Review Programme
Prior to OSR, I worked as the data and performance lead for a local authority. Understanding the challenges of delivering and measuring the success of the services needed to support a city, measuring real time how new government policy and legislation affected these, and working with person level datasets changed my outlook on data – data wasn’t just numbers anymore needed to make a bridge stand up or to inform a policy decision, behind every number there were real people living real lives.
Statistics are not just for governments or policy makers, they are for everyone – they allow individuals to be more informed, support better public debate and ensure that services are designed on real need.
To me, International Women’s Day is a day to focus attention and drive action on the issues affecting women, as well as providing a platform to celebrate and highlight the achievements of women across the world.
Catherine Bromley – Head of Research
I decided to work in this field because I wanted to change the world – statistics seemed like a good way to try!
A big piece of work I’ve been involved with at the Office of Statistics Regulation is Joining Up Data For Better Statistics. Data sharing is often met with fear and caution, but it is so important to make the case that people’s lives are complex and statistics need to be better connected to reflect that. I’m really proud of the response our recommendations had and feel like we’ve started to make some important headway.
International Women’s Day to me, is a chance to showcase women’s achievements and voices. Women have not traditionally had a high profile in the world of statistics – this is changing but more needs to be done.
Emily Tew – Head of Data and Automation
To me, International Women’s Day is a celebration of how far we’ve come for equality as well as a consideration of how far we still need to go both in the UK and globally. Being a data scientist myself, I still see the massive gap in women in the Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths (STEM) sectors and this is something that needs to change.
We wouldn’t be where we are today without women such as Ada Lovelace, Marie Curie and Florence Nightingale, who produced ground-breaking work often up against harsh opposition from male scientists in their field. Luckily, the challenges are not quite as extreme as in the late 1800s but we are not quite at full equality yet and encouraging women to study these subjects at school or University will help bridge the gap.