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national women's history month

A Statistician's Work is Never Done

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA's rich science and research profile.

2013 is the International Year of Statistics. As part of this global event, every month this year USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will profile careers of individuals who are making significant contributions to improve agricultural statistics in the United States.

March is National Women’s History Month, celebrating women’s many accomplishments throughout history. And 2013 is the International Year of Statistics, in which countries and organizations around the world mark the power and impact of statistics. Together, these two celebrations touch me on a personal level.   After all, only several decades ago, there were virtually no female statisticians, while today, more than half the staff at the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), where I work, is female.

A South Dakotan’s Commitment Advances Women’s History

In recognition of National Women’s History Month, the South Dakota USDA Rural Development staff salutes all of the inspiring, influential women who are making a difference in society at the local, state and national level.  In line with this year’s theme of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (SMART) we draw strength and inspiration through the tenacity of one woman’s journey, Dawn Emily Ottman.

After a career in the military followed by a decade of success as an engineer, Dawn sustained a head injury.  After years of relearning to walk and adjusting to her disability, she made the decision to work when she could, and not give up.  So what’s a woman to do when she spends her life contributing and now finds herself requiring too many “accommodations” in the workplace?  She creates her own job where she can accommodate her disability challenges.   And so it was in 2005, when CanDew Scientific, a small business of one employee and a renewable energy “green engineering” company was formed with assistance received through the Small Business Development Center (SDBC). Centers of this type are funded across the nation in part with assistance from USDA Rural Development.