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Profiles of AWIS Members in Statistics: Mary W. Gray, PhD

I was originally trained as a mathematician.  However, after a number of years working in pure mathematics I decided that while my proofs might be elegant, they did not produce any immediate impact on the world.  Moreover, the mathematics community was definitely not very hospitable to women.  I switched my field of research to statistics and earned a law degree, inspired by my involvement in statistics in equity issues.  Subsequently I have worked on applications of statistics to education, health, economic equity, human rights, and international development, finding such commitment to be very rewarding.  And I have found the statistics community to be much more receptive to the participation of women.

Although the climate for women is much better than when I started my career, the fact is that women in general have to be better at what they do than do their male colleagues if they expect to receive recognition and rewards.  But with a commitment to research and/or teaching comes a great deal of satisfaction.  So my advice is to find work that you enjoy and take every opportunity to learn more and to seize interesting opportunities whenever you can.  And finally, try to help others, be they young statisticians or people around the world whom your professional expertise might assist.

Mary W. Gray is a professor of mathematics and statistics at American University in Washington DC.  Dr. Gray has a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Kansas and a J.D. from Washington College of Law as well as several honorary doctorates.  She is the chair of the Board of Directors of the American Middle East Education Foundation.  Author of two books and over 100 articles, Professor Gray is a winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Mentoring and the Lifetime Mentoring Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).  Dr. Gray’s research interests include applications of statistics to law, economics, education, medicine, and human and civil rights; mathematics education; and international development. A fellow of the American Statistical Association, the American Mathematical Society, the AAAS, and the Association for Women in Science, she has recently been a visiting professor at King’s College School of Medicine, London, and has lectured in Brazil, Nicaragua, Palestine and Tunisia.  Professor Gray is the founding president of the Association for Women in Mathematics and a past president of the Caucus for Women in Statistics.  A long-time human rights activist, she served as International Treasurer for Amnesty International and chair of Amnesty International USA. Dr. Gray has also been active in the areas of academic freedom and university governance, working with the American Association of University Professors on these issues as well as on the status of women in academe.  She has been chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at American University and principal investigator on a number of grants from the National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Karim Riad Said Foundation, including grants for the support of U.S. students from underrepresented minorities and students from the Middle East.


 International Year of Statistics Participating Organization

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