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Celebrating Women in Maths 2019

Posted on 11/03/2019

On Tuesday 5 March 2019, the Department of Mathematics celebrated International Women’s Day with their annual Women in Maths event. This year, Dr Amy Mason, a Research Associate working in Mendelian Randomisation for the Cardiac Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge, discussed her career and life in academia, alongside Mendelian Randomization and answering questions from the audience, in her talk entitled: ‘My Career: Mendelian Randomization and other Random Events’.

Women in Maths 2019 39Mendelian Randomization is a powerful statistical technique able to use genetic data to infer causality without relying on a randomised controlled trial. Amy used examples from her career, such as analysing admission data and mortality rate in hospitals, to explain various statistical techniques.

Melina Giagiozis, a student attending the event reported:

For this year’s International Women’s Day, the Department of Mathematics organised a talk with Dr Amy Mason about her career as a woman in mathematics. Amy graduated with a Masters degree in Mathematics from Oxford and a PhD in Random Matrix Theory from the University of Bristol. In relation to the medical statistics she does professionally, she introduced us to the weekend effect, a phenomenon in which the mortality rate in hospital patients who have been admitted during the weekend seems to be higher. It has been claimed that this is due to hospitals being understaffed over the weekend. Using this example, Amy explained how an immense amount of very detailed data is necessary to reliably support such claims. A mere correlation between two sets of data (e.g. weekend admission and mortality) in no way implies that one occurrence has caused the other, or that they are directly related. Though I’ve never had a passion for statistics I must admit that Amy made it sound extremely interesting and versatile. Her field of work overlaps with many other sciences and it was good to hear from someone who has explored different paths along the way. Like most, I have no clear plan for a future career and very much appreciate when successful women like Amy share their stories. Overall, the event was very inspiring and a great opportunity to ask all those career related questions that arise when the end of the degree approaches.

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