A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
What are the first things that come to your mind if your read the term “Statistics”? Misleading graphs in newspapers, exit polls on election day or maybe something about probabilities (with a high probability something about black and white marbles in some box you are drawing from).
And how do you picture a statistician? A person with a big box full of colorful marbles, drawing samples? Is it a He or a She?
Maybe you are smart and thinking: “Well, statistics are everywhere I look: in self driving cars, in my Netflix recommendations and whenever I order books online (because someone taught the warehouse algorithm which titles to keep in stock)”. And how does your statistician look like now? A nerd behind thick glasses, staring at some code and pouring huge amounts of coffee down her throat? And again the question: is it a He or a She?
Let’s see if I can answer some of this by summarizing my study in three paragraphs:
1. There is a fair chance that SHE is assessing the marketing plan for a new chocolate brand or developing an algorithm to stock the optimal number of vaccine shots at any given moment in the local hospital. From 25 students in the Masters program, I am counting 13 women. And from the 7 teachers and professors we had up until know, 3 are female. So if you are a women thinking secretly about studying at the nerdy place called Snellius Building but are still hesitant because you don’t want to hang with an all-male group of co-students: I can assure you that there is some girl power in the program.
2. Computers: I am afraid that I have to confirm the stereotype about sitting behind a screen full of code most of the time. There are also graphs involved (check www.ourworldindata.com for an example of pretty nice visualization) though. And: the marbles and dice are only present in the first course on “Probabilities and Statistics”. Our tools are random number generators and simulation studies.
3. Coffee: there is plenty of it. And it is free, too. Or to be precise: there is free DeLonghi-Coffee-Maker-coffee for members of the study association De Leidse Flesch. The good thing about our study association: they have money and they know how to spend it on their members. So apart from coffee, there is also a student run bar in the building and every month a special Master-Students-Only activity is organized. Cheap beer, free coffee and an endless supply of sweets at supermarket prices; maybe not the best address if you are detoxing after the christmas break, but certainly needed if you are wondering what your teacher is trying to explain when he talks about deviance scores and three different ways to calculate sums of squares (or if your frustration built up because that piece of code you knitted carefully last night suddenly gives you different results).