Met Office meteorologist Alison Davies was one of just four UK women invited to join a trip of a lifetime to Antarctica last December (2016) to advance her knowledge of polar science while developing leadership skills. The international expedition was one of many opportunities which have been afforded to female scientists in the last year, helping extend their role within the Met Office, meteorology and science as a whole.
International Women’s Day 2017 is calling for groundbreaking action that will truly drive change for women. With women making up less than a third of meteorology and hydrology professionals, the Met Office actively supports STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) outreach work including training courses and international fellowships. Ensuring women have equal access to science education and technology is essential if women are to be fully represented amongst the developers of weather and climate services.
With some survey’s predicting the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186, the Met Office has committed to respecting and valuing diversity and supporting men and women to achieve their ambitions. Our international development team has been working with the WMO (World Meteorological Organization) to look at gender equality at a policy level and ways to incorporate valuable knowledge from women into building societies which are resilient to changing climates. Met Office is also working with WMO to understand how we can ensure the skills of women who work in weather and climate science are not lost when shift patterns are no longer possible with family commitments.
Working in partnership with the WMO we hope to better understand and provide ways in which women and men access and use weather and climate information for greater resilience, preparedness and communication around weather-related disasters.
Met Office Chief Executive Rob Varley sits on the WMO Executive Council Panel of Experts on Gender Mainstreaming. He said: “Our involvement in this panel allows us not only to consider how we can improve Met Office gender equality practices, but also to contribute to the development of good practice across the global meteorological community”.
Developing weather and climate services
Weather and climate-related disasters can affect men and women differently, so ensuring both genders are encouraged to engage in plans to mitigate disaster risk is crucial.
Our experience of developing weather and climate services across the globe includes disaster risk exercises to explore the development and communication of severe weather warnings. Making sure a cross-section of stakeholder groups, including women, take part in these exercises is crucial to ensuring the resulting plans are adapted to local context.
From policy development into practical application, developing and providing sustainable weather and climate information empowers people to take action to protect their lives and livelihoods.
Today, International Women’s Day, March 8, gives us an opportunity to highlight how the Met Office and the global meteorological community are essential to providing life-saving knowledge to people in a diverse and equal way. #BeingBoldForChange