Women in Weather: An Industry Playing Catch-Up?

Here at Skyview, the Meteorological Technology World Expo event is a firm favourite in our calendar (read our MetExpo highlights here) and we jump at any opportunity to network with like-minded weather enthusiasts. MetExpo 2019 ran over two days, with record numbers of visitors enjoying a wide range of fascinating talks and the very latest product launches and innovations from over 170 exhibitors.

Over the years, however, we have noticed a surprising lack of female representation - with this year seeing a 20/80, female to male delegate split, which, despite the organisers’ best efforts, was closely duplicated in the speaker list - 6 women to 33 men.

With women making bold advancements in the meteorological and industrial sectors - we couldn’t help but wonder why so few women were in attendance, especially as this is far from representative of our own team. Skyview Systems is a small, family-run business based in Sudbury, Suffolk, providing innovative weather equipment to the UK and Europe. The year 2019 sees us celebrate our 30th year in business - an achievement that we are immensely proud of!

As far back as 1989, Skyview's Managing Director, Nic Hart, wholeheartedly believed in the possibility of creating a sustainable business which would have a part to play in the green movement. This drive to make a change was born from the environmental damage that he witnessed during his previous career in the oil and gas industry, where he saw first-hand the scale of the destruction being done to the planet through the burning of fossil fuels and the drilling of vast areas of natural landscapes. This prompted Nic to turn his back on this industry to forge a greener future.

Whilst Skyview may be the brainchild of a particularly forward-thinking man, and our engineering staff who have joined us along the way have been predominantly male, it is Nic’s two daughters, Imogen and Zoe, who have taken on integral roles within the day-to-day management and future planning of the company.

In their roles as Commercial Marketing Director and E-commerce Director - and as a testament to their father - they have lived and breathed weather monitoring and had a strong sense of environmental awareness since they were no age. As they got older even lifts back to university from Dad were seen as opportunities for on-the-job, weather station installation training en route!

From the humble beginnings of packing orders during school holidays, they have worked their way up the ranks to hold senior management positions over the last decade.

Skyview has experienced steady progression throughout the years - and whilst there is a fair female to male split within the office, some of our more technical positions - particularly with regards to software development and programming - have been achieved by the IT-savvy female side of the workforce. It would seem, however, that this is not representative of our industry as a whole.

Online networks and events are making great strides to encourage woman in STEM roles, covering Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Discovere and the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists (INWES) are deserving of a huge mention here for anyone wanting to read more!

The Royal Meteorological Society's Women in Weather podcast offers an insight into the obstacles facing women working within the scientific sector and considers how to actively inspire more young girls to choose STEM professions. The podcast highlights the fact that women make up only a third of the global workforce at National Meteorological and Hydrological Services - and hold only 19% of managerial positions within the organisation.

Professor Liz Bentley, Chief Executive, Royal Meteorological Society, calls for more role models within the industry to encourage and mentor women coming up through the ranks - as well as those returning to work after a career break. Professor Bentley also advocates offering women opportunities for job sharing, flexibility and inclusion within organisations to make roles within the meteorological sector more appealing. This is something we have embraced at Skyview with plenty of opportunities for flexible hours, working from home and part time roles at all levels of the organisation.

Whilst the traditional “weather girl” role is, of course, a highly scientific profession involving far more than pointing at a map and smiling - there are so many other exciting and progressive job roles to consider within this growing industry. To echo the sentiments of the World Meteorological Organization, we strongly encourage more women to join our exciting field and we look forward to networking with you all at future events!

“At international, national and local levels, there is a drive to improve access for women to technology, information, science education and technical training … Ensuring that women have equal access to science education and technology is an essential catalyst to ensure that the developers and users of weather, water and climate services provided by WMO and its Members serve the global community – men, women, boys, girls. This commitment strengthens the position of women as scientists, technologists and users of weather, water and climate services and fosters increased participation of women in weather and climate decision and policy-making.”

Women in weather, water and climate - World Meteorological Organization