Women & STEM jobs, CAP, curbing malaria

Over the past year operations research, management science and analytics have been showing up in important rankings. In March 2015 U.S. News & World Report named operations research No. 4 in its list of best business jobs, No. 8 in its list of best STEM jobs and No. 20 in its list of 100 best jobs. Pretty impressive! More recently, as you’ll see below, the profession made two USA Today rankings: O.R. made the list of top five best jobs for women and management science made the list of 25 best STEM majors.

Visit the INFORMS Newsroom at for additional news about analytics and INFORMS press releases about intriguing scholarship appearing in INFORMS journals.

Following are excerpts from INFORMS in the news.

O.R. Makes List of Top 5 STEM Professions Employing Women


Women hold 55 percent of STEM jobs.

Have a look for yourself at the five jobs with the highest percentage of women working in the profession ...

3. Operations Research Analysts

  • Percentage of women employed: 55.4 percent
  • Mean annual wage: $82,940

These analysts use mathematical and analytical methods to help organizations solve complex problems, from using statistics to help inform decisions to gathering input from employees. Most operations research analysts have master’s degrees in operations research, engineering, computer science, mathematics or physics. Some entry-level positions are open to those with bachelor’s degrees.

This field only has 55.4 percent female workers, but that is still a considerable amount when looking at women in STEM. The reason for this, says analyst Laurie M. Orlov in her article on, is that jobs in the business technology arena capitalize on women’s greatest strengths in the workplace: “communication, collaboration and problem solving.”

- USA Today, Jan. 12

Management Science Makes List of Top 25 STEM Majors

Finding the optimal way to use a workforce is not an art – it’s a science. In small groups a missing employee can cause sleepless nights when deadlines approach, while an extra employee can result in missed performance metrics. In large groups, such as Fortune 500 companies, these same problems can cost a company billions of dollars or result in thousands of lost jobs. Management science applies the principles of mathematics to the modern office to streamline processes, cut costs and grow revenue.

- USA Today, Dec. 8, 2015

Detecting Sick Milk in China

In 2008, thousands of children in China fell ill after drinking milk that had been adulterated with the chemical melamine.

This scandal inspired Liying Mu, University of Delaware assistant professor of operations management, to study ways to eliminate this dangerous and common problem.

“Milk adulteration, such as by adding water, detergent or starch to milk, has been widely reported in many developing countries,” Mu said. “What are the reasons for those adulterations? And how can we solve the problem?”

In two papers published in top journals Management Science and Production and Operations Management, Mu’s team found three key reasons behind the milk adulteration problem, as well as a number of creative solutions.

- UDaily, Jan. 12

INFORMS CAP Certification ranked No. 1

CAP named most valuable certification.

CAP named most valuable certification.

While you’ll have to determine your own goals and certification needs, let’s look at a handful of important and valuable certifications all IT professionals should consider earning.

1. Certified Analytics Professional

CAP certification enables you to understand the entire analytics process. From framing business and analytic problems to deployment and model lifecycle management, you’ll have full knowledge of everything that goes into general analytics by the time you finish this certification process.

- Data Science Central, Dec. 17, 2015

Healthcare Analytics Trends for the New Year

Analytics continues to bring dramatic change to the healthcare industry in the United States and other countries, offering advances and challenges for the year ahead. Following are 10 trends to chart in 2016.

- Brian Denton (president-elect of INFORMS), Health Data Management, Dec. 21, 2015

2016 Analytics Trends to Watch For

My view of the world is shaped by where I stand, but from this spot the future of analytics for 2016 looks pretty exciting! Analytics has never been more needed or interesting.

- Polly Mitchell Guthrie (INFORMS member), Information Management, Dec. 21, 2015

Temptation Bundling at the Gym

Lack of motivation may also play a large role in the reason why 68.8 percent of Americans are overweight or obese.

So are we all screwed? Or is there a way to keep motivation consistently flowing?

The key may be a process called “temptation bundling,” according to a study in Management Science.

The process pairs two activities – one you should do, but avoid; and one you enjoy, but isn’t necessarily productive, explains lead study author Katherine Milkman, associate professor of Operations, Information and Decisions at The Wharton School.

- Men’s Health, Dec. 18, 2015

High Debt Load Tough for Union Negotiators

Why are unions having a tough time in this country? One reason is that companies are getting leverage. A recent study found that companies with a higher debt load were less likely to experience a strike during contract negotiations, particularly at companies with large unions, worse financial prospects, or underfunded pension plans. Some companies seem to anticipate this and load up on debt before contract negotiations, whereas companies that didn’t do this and experienced a strike subsequently add a ton of debt, particularly if the union won the strike. The debt gives the company a bargaining advantage by limiting how much earnings can be shared with workers vis-à-vis lenders, and often takes the form of stock buybacks, to avoid bringing money into the company.

[Citation] Myers, B. & Saretto, A., “Does Capital Structure Affect the Behavior of Nonfinancial Stakeholders? An Empirical Investigation into Leverage and Union Strikes,” Management Science.

- Boston Globe, Jan. 3

Bed Net Plan for Underfed Kids Curbs Malaria Deaths

Giving extra bed nets to children weakened by lack of food could significantly curb child deaths from malaria, according to a mathematical model revealed last month.

A study published in the Malaria Journal found that distributing insecticide-treated bed nets and supplementary food to undernourished children aged from six months to five years could help prevent their deaths from malaria. This is because children with malnutrition are much more likely than healthy children to succumb to the disease, the paper states.

The model proposed by Milinda Lakkam and [former Operations Research editor in chief and INFORMS Fellow] Lawrence Wein, two mathematicians at Stanford University in the United States, shows that such targeted distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets is better at reducing malaria deaths than random distribution. In one tested scenario, where malaria transmission was pegged as seasonal and intermittent, the distribution of bed nets specifically to undernourished children achieved a 69 percent reduction in malaria mortality.

- SciDev.Net, Jan. 6

Portfolios and Their Debt to an O.R. Nobel Winner

Markowitz’s work provided investors with quantitative ways to reduce risk and optimize their return.

Markowitz’s work provided investors with quantitative ways to reduce risk and optimize their return.

During WWII, academics developed “operations research” techniques involving statistics and linear programming to hunt enemy submarines, supply troops on the ground and deliver ordnance to targets. Soon after the war ended, operations research academics began to apply their methodologies to investing. In 1952, Harry Markowitz, a graduate student at the University of Chicago, published a paper on portfolio selection in the Journal of Finance. Markowitz’s quantitative approach to investment theory was radically different from the conventional stock market wisdom at the time, which focused on picking winning stocks and concentrating stock holdings to maximize return.

Investors knew that holding stocks meant taking risks, and they were led to believe that the only way to reduce risk was to become more competent at picking stocks. Some investors were following the advice of Gerald M. Loeb, the co-founder of brokerage firm E.F. Hutton, who wrote, “once you obtain competency, diversification is undesirable.” Markowitz’s work along with others gave birth to what is now known as Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT). MPT provided investors quantitative ways to reduce risk and optimize their return.

- Monterey Herald, Dec. 12, 2015

How to Improve Decision-Making in Supply Chains

David Simchi-Levi, MIT Professor, INFORMS Fellow and former editor in chief of Operations Research (INFORMS journal):

The ability to understand a combination of historical behavior, market conditions and future needs drives decision-making. New analytic capabilities that combine machine learning and optimization can take into account historical characteristics and competitor behavior to determine future demand that will allow optimization for the best results – such as profit, market share or revenue.
Examples of decisions where this approach can be used in assortment, pricing, sourcing strategies for new products and predictive maintenance using process sensors.

- SupplyChainOpz, Dec. 23, 2015

Compiled by Barry List, associate director of communications for INFORMS. To share your news-making research, contact List at or 1-800-4INFORMs.