Women in Statistics through History

Dr Altea Lorenzo-Arribas

This website is associated to the poster “Women in Statistics through History” exhibited at the Royal Statistical Society International Conference 2021 in Manchester.. It aims to provide further information on the lives and careers of these trailblazing statisticians (go to links below pictures) and more details on the statistics presented (see plots below).

The poster aims to share brief overviews of some of the hidden histories of women in statistics worldwide and their essential contributions to the development of the discipline despite exclusions, challenges, and prejudices. By presenting biographical sketches, anecdotes, and associated statistics the poster increases the visibility of these figures and goes some way to redress systematic underrepresentation, exemplified by the lack of Wikipedia entries for many of these important scientists. The selection includes elected fellows of the society, international figureheads and also many failing to gain recognition or even fulfil their career potentials. From data visualisation to social statistics and epidemiology, the women shown here have overcome the odds to enrich their chosen fields. How much greater might those achievements have been had society granted a level playing field?

You can download it here:

Y en castellano:


Elizabeth Scott
(1917-1988) proposed correction
formula to Scott Effect
in astronomy


Enid Charles
started pioneering work
for WHO


Mary E. Spear (
Charting Statistics


Gertrude Cox
1st woman elected
into the International Statistical Institute


Aryness Joy Wickens
(1901 – 1991)
1st woman Acting Commissioner at US Bureau of Labor Stats.


Helen M. Walker
1st woman president
of the ASA


Betty Allan
joined Australian
CSIR(O) as its 1st


Kate Claghorn
(1864 – 1938)
1st female fellow of the ASA


Frances Wood
(1883 – 1919)
1st female member
of the RSS Council



(1877 – 1967)
published 1st
cohort study


Clara E. Collet
(1860 – 1948) researched women’s work
 in Booth’s survey
“Life and Labour of
the People of London



(1820-1910) 1st  female
of the RSS

Approximately 2500 women graduated in mathematics from universities in Britain and Ireland before 1940, according to the Davis historical archive.

Between 1904 and 1940 a total of 73 women graduated from the University of Manchester with a BSc Mathematics constituting a 29% of the graduates in the field at Manchester (see figure below).

Out of the 387 obituaries in the Journals of the Royal Statistical Society Series A and D between 1920 and 2021 (up to July, made freely available by Wiley: https://rss.org.uk/news-publication/news-publications/2020/general-news/rss-fellow-obituaries-now-open-access/), 13 are about women (see figure below; including of Frances Wood, Stella Cunliffe and Gertrude Cox) and 24 have been written by women. (N.B.: obituaries written in the journals must be of fellows of the society).

In 2021, 26.4% of Royal Statistical Society fellows (including CStat and GradStat) recorded their gender as women (58.0% identified as men and 15.6% did not record their gender).

A total of 5 women have presided the society since 1834:

Stella V Cunliffe1975-1977
Professor D Lievesley CBE, FAcSS1999-2001
Professor Valerie Isham2011-2012
Deborah Ashby2019-2020
Sylvia Richardson2021-2022


For more information or suggestions, please contact me at: