For The Record, Female Weather Reporters Are Not Weather Girls

Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images.
This weekend, the first part of a two part series on The Weather Channel, Women in Science Wx Geeks, called attention to an important, but rarely discussed, issue: gender bias in weather reporting.

Case in point: Female meteorologists are still frequently called "weather girls."

“Being called a weather girl needs to become a thing of the past," Ginger Zee, a meteorologist on Good Morning America and ABC World News Tonight, said in a statement to Refinery29. "It had its place in history but rarely does today. Women on television can also be scientists. It's that simple and that is my goal, inspiring kids in science, especially young women, so that we make female scientists less of an anomaly.”

In the early days of on-screen weather reporting, not all weather reporters were credentialed. That has changed. According to the World Meteorological Organization, to become a meteorologist, you need a bachelor of sciences or master's degree in meteorology with a strong foundation in math. Often, additional study of other areas within earth science is also required.

Calling a meteorologist a weather girl is the equivalent of calling a professional nurse a candy striper. It's outdated and demeaning.

Many of the same problems that women face in other areas of tech carry over to weather reporting, where women are also far outnumbered by men. The added element of being on-screen means that what a woman wears is scrutinized to an additional degree.

"There are different expectations for women than men in terms of appearance and what can be said," Jen Carfagno, the on-camera meteorologist at The Weather Channel told Refinery29. "I don't want the focus to be [on my appearance] when I'm delivering a forecast."

Social media can be a positive thing — it gives Carfagno and other meteorologists direct access to viewers — but also a major drawback. "I see a lot more negative feedback," Carfagno said. "[Women get] comments that are degrading or lewd more often than men."

Part of the numbers problem is that not enough women are developing an interest in science at an early age, and not pursuing a career in meteorology in the first place, Carfagno says. But at a broader level, increased awareness and education is required to overcome stereotypes that women face in weather reporting, or any on-screen reporting, for that matter.

So let's agree to get one thing straight: A female meteorologist is not a weather girl.
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