Kimiko Bowman (1927-2019)

Kimiko Osada Bowman was a Japanese-American statistician known for her work on approximating the probability distribution of maximum likelihood estimators and for her advocacy for people with disabilities.

Kim immigrated to the USA from her native Japan in 1951.. In the course of only five years, she completed an undergraduate degree in mathematics and chemistry at Radford College, and MS and PhD degrees in statistics at Virginia Tech (1963). Her dissertation, supervised by Leonard Shenton, was Moments to Higher Orders for Maximum Likelihood Estimates with an Application to the Negative Binomial Distribution.

As a senior research scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Bowman worked on the distributional properties of estimators based on non-normal data. Bowman also frequently visited Japan in association with the U.S. Office of Naval Research. After 45 years of service, she retired in 1994.

She authored or co-authored three books and more than 200 articles during her career.

Advocate for people with disabilities

A victim of polio herself, Bowman took an active leadership role in advocacy for individuals with disabilities. She served on the National Science Foundation Equal Opportunities for Science and Engineering Advisory Committee, and chaired the NSF Committee on People with Disabilities. She also chaired the Statistical Tracking of Employment of People with Disabilities Task Force for the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. Her main duty was to monitor the questionnaire for Census 2000 so relevant questions were asked about people with
disabilities and accurate results were obtained.


Bowman became a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 1976. She was also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and elected member of the International Statistical Institute (1978) and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (1987), Also in 1987, she was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Tokyo, becoming the first foreigner to be so honoured.


Kimiko O Bowman. Wikipedia.

Lorenzo Arribas, A. (2021). Kimiko Bowman o cómo usar la estadística para mejorar las condiciones laborales de las personas con discapacidades. Mujeres con Ciencia blog.

Max, M.. Obituary: Kimiko Bowman, 1927–2019. Institute of Mathematical Statistics

Snider, V. (September 2008), “Never Say Never: Bowman Helps Provide Formula for Approximating the Distribution of Maximum Likelihood Estimators” . Statisticians in history, Amstat News, American Statistical Association, pp. 4–6.