A survey of women atmospheric scientists has been completed in late 1973 and is briefly summarized in this article. Complete results are on file at the Headquarters of The American Meteorological Society. For the United States, the survey comprised as many as possible of those females either with baccalaureate degrees or higher in atmospheric sciences and those working several years professionally in the field. The names of 247 women who met this definition came to our attention, excluding about 80 more listed as undergraduate majors. The 247 women were subdivided into the following categories: 1) 32 Ph.D.'s; 2) 76 non-student masters' degrees; 3) 84 non-student bachelors' degrees or equivalent; 4) 25 Ph.D. candidates and; 5) 30 masters' candidates. We were able to reach the majority of these women by questionnaire, letter and/or telephone.
The main findings were: 1) the high degree of productive employment in the Atmospheric Sciences or a closely related field (101 of 190 non-students) and 2) the sex-related difficulties noted by the majority (73% of the 150 non-students reporting). All the Ph.D.'s were employed full or part-time in atmospheric science or a related field, and most had received some significant honors. Many of the masters and bachelors had also had outstanding careers, although, in general, traceability and commitment decreased somewhat with the less advanced degrees. The prospects for young women are brighter now than a generation ago. Four young female atmospheric scientists are currently assistant professors in major atmospheric science departments and several are in rising professional situations in the operational weather services. The sex-related difficulties were of two distinct types, namely: 1) discrimination, now decreasing and 2) for married women, problems of co-location of careers with those of husbands and to an important but lesser degree, child care.
The survey exploded the myth that “it does not pay” to provide women with training and opportunity in atmospheric science. Nearly all areas of atmospheric science today have already been infiltrated by females, except that of top management. Related to this, the distributions of males versus females in the field are quite different. With females, 60% are in teaching and/or research, 32% in operations, and 8% in management, while the corresponding figures for males are 28%, 43% and 29% respectively. A surprising result of our survey was the high fraction of foreign born women in the advanced degree categories, decreasing to negligible with the baccalaureates.
1 On leave from Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va., until June 30, 1974.
2 The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.