Ada Lovelace Day heroine nomination

Last Friday was Ada Lovelace Day, a day to celebrate and support women in STEM. One of the ways it does this is encourage people to write about a heroine in one of the related fields. This is my entry.

I don’t know a great many women at the cutting edge of STEM, but I think that even if I did it wouldn’t change my nomination. I want to write about Jenny Neuburger. Don’t worry that you haven’t heard about her.

She is a statistician, and has recently finished her doctorate. Her thesis was working on the data provided by longitudinal studies into the wage gap between men and women, controlling for confounding factors such as time away from work and educational achievement. Since this, she has been working on patient outcomes for surgical interventions. Before her doctorate she worked in policy development for Shelter.

You may have noticed that she tends to work in very socially positive areas. She has a great sense of social responsibility, and works in fields that rightly give a sense of satisfaction, knowing that in doing your job you are helping people. She is doing Good Things. However, this is not why I wanted to nominate her. Lots of people commit their working lives to positive goals – where would many of the greatest institutions be without that goodwill? The NHS would have been sunk long ago, as would the civil service and local government.

I have every confidence that Jenny is excellent at what she does. I can’t imagine she would have successfully completed a PhD without the requisite skills. However, I can’t nominate based on this, because I can’t assess it properly. Without a similar level of knowledge and understanding I am in no position to pass comment on hers.

The thing that I think makes her stand out is her passion. She really cares about her work in a way that I have rarely, if ever, seen. She not only recognises the importance of what she does, and this is the sort of analysis governments make spending decisions on, but enjoys the actuals of it. Almost every time I see her we have lengthy, involved and very interesting conversations about her work. Confounding factors, different analytic models and statistical significance will come up, and it won’t feel like a school lesson. No one else I know will happily and enthusiastically talk shop in the way she does, while being so clear and engaging.

This enthusiasm is hugely important. I don’t know what her future holds, and I don’t know how her career will progress. What I do know is that she will enjoy the journey, and will give everyone else great value along the way. That’s the sort of thing that makes a heroine.

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  1. Sounds like a star, and a powerful recommendation.
    However:
    “What I do know is that she will enjoy the journey, and will give everyone else *great value* along the way.”
    Eek dude…
    Value added fries with that?
    😛

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