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Women meteorologists hope to get more young girls into STEM careers

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Posted at 3:41 PM, Jun 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-21 17:41:37-04

Jessica Moore is a freelance meteorologist and storm chaser. She’s documented storms from coast to coast.

“Not only am I out there to document and see the weather but I’m also reporting what I see to the national weather service so that way I can help them to issue their warnings faster," Moore said. "Because they need that ground truth that storm spotters like myself provide when we’re out in the field.”

Moore says people are much more inclined to take shelter if they see footage of an oncoming tornado. She’s out in the field to capture that. She’ll come across other storm chasers on her trips, but she says she doesn’t often see other solo women.

“To be honest is still seems like a male-dominated field,” Moore said.

According to the American Association of University Women, a leading voice promoting equity for women and girls, women make up only 28% of the workforce in science, technology, engineering, and math careers.

“I think back when I was in college and I was the only woman in my graduating class to go into broadcast meteorology,” Meteorologist Meredith Garofalo said.

Certified Broadcast Meteorologist Meredith Garofalo has made it her life goal to change that. She forecasts the weather for the entire country at WeatherNaton and she’s had the opportunity to speak at national conventions to get young girls and women excited about STEM careers.

“We need to have women in every field that a man is in because there are going to be those little girls that are going to want to be engineers, they may want to drive forklifts, they might be interested in doing careers, where back in the day it was a more male-dominated field,” Garofalo said.

Garofalo says there’s been so much progress – but a lot of work still needs to be done. So she’s using her STEM experience to inspire others.

“I also get exciting opportunities from time to time to be a science and space or a STEM reporter, and I get to do a lot of cool stories from interviewing astronauts on the space station to the latest weather satellites that are going up and some of the great technological advances that are going to impact us, not just with helping forecast the weather but as a society and community,” Garofalo said.

AAUW says the key factors that have perpetuated the gender STEM gap are gender stereotypes, the lack of women role models in STEM careers, and math anxiety. Moore says that’s why she was initially hesitant to chase her career dreams.

“Growing up I didn’t think I could be a scientist," Moore said. "I just thought that I would travel the traditional route that the women in my family did before me by choosing art and music careers. And there’s nothing wrong with those paths, but I was always interested in science and I just always felt like I couldn’t do it – the math was too hard. But if you want it bad enough, if that’s your passion and desire, all you have to do is put your effort into it. Don’t let anything stand in your way.”

Both ladies are hoping they can serve as role models to other young girls – showing them they can do any career they set their mind to.

“You do you," Garofalo said. "Find that passion. Look up to those women who are doing what you want to do in your career, in the STEM career in general, and reach out.”