Meteorologists across the country are wearing purple on March 14 — Pi Day, in honor of the mathematical constant that begins with 3.14 — to draw attention to a problem in their profession, and in other math- and science-based careers.
The issue is a lack of women in meteorology and similar fields. Only 24 percent of jobs in science, technology, engineering and math are held by women, according to U.S. Department of Commerce data. But women make up 47 percent of the workforce in the U.S.
It’s the third year that meteorologists have participated in #DressForSTEM to encourage women and girls to consider careers in fields currently dominated by men, according to AccuWeather.
“Girls and women think differently than men, in a good way, and have their own set of experiences to bring into the field,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Courtney Spamer said in a statement. “With these unique female perspectives, there could be new innovations and breakthroughs in a whole host of fields.”
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From Syracuse, N.Y., to Fort Myers, Fla., men and women — and meteorologists and other newscasters alike — have been joining in.
Women working in science and technology also tend to make more money than women who work in other fields, according to the Commerce Department. And women in science careers also make more than men who work in non-science jobs, data shows, earning on average 40 percent more than men outside the field.
But just like in other science fields, women in meteorology are less well-represented than men — and that’s particularly true at the higher levels, with only about 8 percent of chief meteorologist positions in the U.S. being held by women, according to the American Meteorological Society.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a great blended team,” AccuWeather Broadcast Meteorologist Brittany Boyer said in a statement. “But I have seen stations that only have a male-dominated team, and you just question why there are four or five men when you can have some women mixed in.”
Another meteorologist said it’s important to keep girls who are interested in science and math at a young age engaged as they grow older.
“I think, in a lot of cases, girls tend to typically outperform boys in math and science at young ages,” said AccuWeather Broadcast Meteorologist Julia Weiden, who originally proposed the idea of #DressForSTEM. “But once they get to high school, there’s this divide that happens where girls who are good at math and science decide, ‘No, I don’t want to pursue that as my career.’ ”