As part of WMO’s ongoing drive towards greater gender equality, the Commission for Hydrology organized a Women’s Leadership in Hydrology Workshop in Rome, Italy, 5-6 December 2016.
Thirty female hydrologists from 30 countries spanning five continents participated in the two-day event ahead of the Commission for Hydrology session, gaining hands-on experience in participating in an international cooperation meeting.
“We need to bring in more women in governance and management,” said WMO Deputy Secretary-General Elena Manaenkova. “Women bring diverse ideas, knowledge and expertise which make for better decision making, more equitable distribution of resources, and better performance,” she added.
The Commission for Hydrology is the first WMO Constituent Body to organize an event especially aimed at capacity development of women. The workshop was sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States of America, the UK Met Office, and the Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA).
The Women’s Leadership in Hydrology workshop was geared towards strengthening the soft skills of a group of mid-career professionals from National Hydrological Services of WMO Member states, with a focus on communications, strategic influence, conflict management and consensus-building. The method involved interactive exercises and situation scenarios. Individual coaching sessions were also offered at which participants obtained personalized feedback, discussed career goals, and devised action strategies.
“I very much enjoyed both the content of the course and the unique opportunity it gave me to connect with so many interesting, bright and inspiring women from around the world, and who all share the same interest in hydrology as I do” said Elizabeth Jamieson, the participant from Canada.
Many participants were surprised to discover how many challenges they had in common, regardless of geographical distance and boundaries. They were also stimulated by the diverse cross-cultural exchange. The workshop served as a platform for sharing experience and laid the foundations of a network of female hydrologists. “I have found a new family in hydrology,” exclaimed Tennielle Williams from Belize.
Most importantly, the workshop raised the voice and built the self-confidence of these prospective female leaders in hydrology. “Leaders can be made,” exclaimed Rosalie Pagulayan from the Philippines, who felt reassured by the techniques presented.
In her concluding remarks, Elena Manaenkova urged the participants to serve as role models and mentors to young female professionals, to encourage girls to study meteorology and hydrology, and to lead by example.
Currently, female participation in WMO governance does not exceed 20% on average. Women are further underrepresented in scientific expert teams, management and international negotiations. WMO is therefore intensifying efforts to empower women in its governance, working structures, programmes and service delivery. It is also determined to attract more women in the fields of science and meteorology.