2019 International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day!

The UN’s webpage offers a history of IWD and describes it as “a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. International Women’s Day first emerged from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe.”

To celebrate, I wanted to bring attention to three pretty awesome women in meteorology. This list of awesome meteorology women is far from exhaustive. I’m continually amazed by the accomplishments of the women I am fortunate enough to know and call colleagues. Happy International Women’s Day to you all!

1 – Anne Louise Beck

Beck traveled to the Bergen school and brought a lot of their science back to America, but her work didn’t gain much traction. A few years later, Rossby follows a similar path and becomes a giant in our field. Read my full blog post about Anne Louise Beck, a fairly overlooked pioneer in meteorology as a science in the US.

2 – June Bacon-Bercey

“Born on 23 October 1932, June Bacon-Bercey is a pioneering meteorologist. She holds the distinctions of being the first African American woman meteorologist and the first woman television meteorologist in the US. Born in Wichita, Kansas, Bacon-Bercey studied meteorology and mathematics, earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas in 1954 and her master’s from UCLA in 1955. After stints working for the National Meteorological Center in Washington, DC, and Sperry Rand Corp, she became a television broadcaster for NBC in Buffalo, New York, in 1970. When the weatherman was fired, Bacon-Bercey stepped in and quickly gained recognition for her work. In 1972 Bacon-Bercey was awarded the American Meteorological Society’s “seal of approval” for excellence in television weathercasting—the first woman and the first African American ever to achieve that distinction. After four years at NBC, she spent the next decade and a half working for the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency. Among her many advocacy roles, she helped found the American Meteorological Society’s Board on Women and Minorities in 1975. Since retiring from government service in 1989, Bacon-Bercey has continued to be involved in consulting and educational work. She established a meteorology laboratory at Jackson State University in Mississippi. She created an annual scholarship, administered by the American Geophysical Union, to be awarded to a female graduate student in the atmospheric sciences; the scholarship was funded from prize money she won as a contestant on a TV quiz show. Bacon-Bercey has been recognized by NASA as a Minority Pioneer for Achievement in Atmospheric Sciences and is the subject of a book: June Bacon-Bercey: A Meteorologist Talks about the Weather (2006).” – Physics Today

3 – Dr. Petra Klein

Petra was my co-adviser during my graduate study, and remains a close colleague and dear friend today. She’s one of my strongest role models and reminder of what a strong woman can achieve. My favorite memory of Petra empowering me directly is this: when we were doing fieldwork in Portugal, we had daily planning meetings in a large open room with bad acoustics. I was struggling to hear the conversations happening among various PIs at these meetings, and mentioned it to her. At the next meeting, she all but forced me to show up and take a seat at the (literal) table and be part of that conversation instead of sitting in the background and struggling to hear the decisions being made. I learned so much about leading a science team on that experiment, and she made that experience possible for me. This above image is a digital art piece that a wonderful female creator, Ireneagh, did for me as a gift to Petra at the end of my PhD. Check out her Etsy shop here!