Whether it’s working at the cutting edge of climate or meteorological science, or forecasting and informing the public and our customers about the changing dynamics of the weather, women are at the heart of the Met Office and meteorology. The Met Office is enormously proud of the contribution that women make every day to the global understanding of weather and climate. And what better day to underline this key role than today, on International Women’s Day.
As a leading and progressive scientific organisation the Met Office is committed to gender parity – the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day. The Met Office is keen to encourage women to understand the vital role they can play in having a career in science.
Professor Dame Julia Slingo is the Met Office chief scientist. Today she is visiting the University of Leicester to open a photographic exhibition: Space Girls Space Women. This exhibition, which was commissioned by the European Space Agency, endeavours to show space through the eyes of female scientists, engineers and students.
Commenting on the opportunities for women in science, she said: “Throughout my career my scientific curiosity has taken me to many unexpected places: from working in deeply academic university research departments to advising the UK government on national emergencies. I have always found the pursuit of research thoroughly enjoyable, and I hope that future generations of women and girls find the same enjoyment in STEM subjects and are able to follow their own curiosity as far as they desire.”
STEM subjects include the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, and the Met Office is especially keen to inspire girls to consider high-level careers within these sectors. Felicity Liggins, who is a senior applied climate scientist, takes the STEM lead for the Met Office. She said: “More than half of our Met Office STEM ambassadors are women representing women right across our organisation – from forecasting and research to technology and engineering. We also encourage women working in our business and corporate services teams to get involved in STEM outreach too. We deliver activities such as ‘Girls into Maths’ days or WISE’s ‘People Like Me’ training – specifically designed to engage girls in STEM subjects and to show them that people like them are happy and successful working in STEM careers and organisations.”
The Met Office is aspiring to recruit more women into STEM areas, in particular meteorology and science roles, than ever before and the Met Office is encouraging the progression of females up the career ladder into more senior managerial roles.
One way of trying to recruit more women into the Met Office and meteorology is to engage with local communities. Felicity Liggins added: “With our headquarters on the outskirts of Exeter, we’ve teamed up with University of Exeter to put on this year’s Soapbox Science event in Exeter – a novel public-outreach platform for promoting women scientists and the science they do. Its events transform public areas into an arena for public learning and scientific debate.”
Soapbox Science (Exeter) will be held in the city’s Princesshay on 11 June 2016. Other Soapbox Science events will be taking place across the UK from Swansea and London to Edinburgh.
As a member of the World Meteorological Organization, the Met Office works with other partner organisations around the world. Encouraging global gender parity is a key part of our international development work.
To see the breadth of meteorological and science work undertaken by women around the globe, please view the World Meteorological Organization’s Flickr page.