See the profiles of prominent female leaders in the WMO community, who work on building weather and climate resilient societies.
More Female Leaders in the WMO Community
More Female Leaders in the WMO Community
Listing archive of 2017/2018 interviews
Ms An-Ynaya Bintie Abdourazakou is the former Permanent Representative of Comoros with WMO and the Director of Meteorology at the National Agency for Civil Aviation and Meteorology (ANACM) in Comoros. Having started her career as a teacher in mathematics and physics, she encourages young women to consider a career in science and to remember that it is not only a field for men. She further urges them to be strong, courageous and patient. “Success is contingent upon our willingness to succeed,” says Ms Abdourazakou about her motto, adding that “what is done with love always turns out successful.”
Early on in her career, Ms Abdourazakou worked for the Agency for Air Safety in Africa and Madagascar as a meteorological agent at the Bandar Salama Mohéli Airport and at the Moroni Prince Saïd Ibrahim International Airport. Noticing a lack of qualified meteorological personnel on the archipelago island, Ms Abdourazakou thought she could make it her career. She continued to acquire new skills and knowledge by attending workshops on a variety of topics, from climatological software and aeronautical safety to pollution control technology and on the WMO Integrated Global Observing System. It was not long before Ms Abdourazakou was put in charge of climatology, environment and observations at the ANACM. She moved from there to her current post as Director of Meteorology in 2014.
Success is contingent upon our willingness to succeed. What is done with love always turns out successful.
Ms Abdourazakou holds a Master’s degree in Theoretical Physics and Meteorology from the Julius Nyerere University of Kankan, Guinea. She attributes her academic and professional success to the moral, physical and financial support of her husband as well as the encouragement received from her parents.
Ms Augulienė did her diploma studies at Vilnius University before holding various positions at the predecessor to the present-day LHS. In 1994, she became the Chief Specialist for Environmental Monitoring at the Environmental Protection Agency of the Ministry of Environment. She left that post in 2004 to become the Deputy Director of LHS. Ms Augulienė represents Lithuania at EUMETSAT (European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites), ECMWF (European Center for Medium range Weather Forecasting) and HIRLAM (High Resolution Limited Area Model). She has chaired the EUMETSAT Advisory Committee of Cooperating States since 2008. Over her career, she published several papers on ambient air quality as well as on meteorological issues, and coordinated various international and national projects and programmes.
If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. Real leaders are shaped to overcome challenges, control stress, sweat and practice.
She perceives her greatest achievements to be her contribution to the modernization of Lithuanian hydrometeorological infrastructure and services. Prior to modernization in 2005, only 43% of survey respondents thought weather forecast importing. In 2009, after some remarkable improvements, the number increased to 70%, and in 2012 to 86%.
“If you love what you are doing, you will be successful,” says Ms Augulienė. “Real leaders are shaped to overcome challenges, control stress, sweat and practice.”
Sue Barrell loved math and science when she was in school. When she started thinking about her career choices, ”Meteorology seemed to combine all the things I valued – and they happened to advertised for trainee meteorologists just at the right time!” She went on to earn a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the Australian National University, a Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of Canterbury (New Zealand), a Graduate Diploma in Meteorology from the Bureau of Meteorology and to become a Graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Dr Barrell was the Vice President of the WMO Commission for Basic Systems and Chair of the Inter-commission Coordination Group of the WMO Integrated Global Observing System (WIGOS). She served on the Australian Space Industry Innovation Council and is Australia’s Principal Delegate to the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). She is a member of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) Radiocommunications Consultative Committee and sits on the Steering Committee of the Australian National Telescope Facility. Over the years, she has served as acting Deputy Director, Information Systems and Services, Chief Information Officer and as Assistant Director, Observations and Engineering, at the Bureau of Meteorology of Australia. Despite her many responsibilities, she considers herself very lucky to work in an organization that respects her as a person and a scientist. The key to success for her is “Bringing together the things I loved doing and the challenge of learning something new every day.”
Becoming the first female meteorologist to win a senior executive role in the Bureau has helped me inspire others along the way.
Her biggest challenge has been “getting the right balance between work and my home life. But my family is usually good at reminding me of this!” Apart from her family, she regards winning a tiny slice of the IPCC’s Nobel Peace prize and being elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in 2013 as her greatest achievements. In addition, “Becoming the first female meteorologist to win a senior executive role in the Bureau has helped me inspire others along the way.”
Dr Barrell recommends a career in meteorology to young women as it offers many opportunities. “It can move you from different roles within the organization and can take you around the world.”
Ms Gloria Ceballos is the first woman director of the National Meteorological Office (ONAMET) of the Dominican Republic. She started her career at ONAMET in the early 1980s as an assistant forecaster in the Department of Climatology. During that time, she attended a course in meteorology which changed her life. “Our Tropical Meteorology teacher gave us an assignment. She told us to follow the evolution of an atmospheric disturbance which was occurring at that time. It turned out to be Hurricane David, category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, which made landfall in the Dominican Republic”, says Ms Ceballos. She was only 21 years old at the time, and this experience sparked her passion for meteorology.
I knew that to achieve my objective I had to be better than my male colleagues and I tried to be one of the best.
In 1981–1982, Ms Ceballos completed a course in meteorology (WMO Class II) at the Complutense University, Madrid. She completed her civil engineering studies (hydraulics) at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo while working at the Forecast Office of Las Americas International Airport. At the beginning of the 1980s, it was rather unusual for a woman to study civil engineering and meteorology at the same time. “I knew that to achieve my objective I had to be better than my male colleagues and I tried to be one of the best”, says Ms Ceballos.
Ms Ceballos’s advice to young scientists is to study with passion and without feeling intimidated and thinking about the salary. She explained, “The financial aspect was a major difficulty. When I graduated, meteorologists were not well paid in the Dominican Republic, and I had to find another source of income. Moreover, governments did not take meteorological services seriously.”
Ms Ceballos considers her becoming the Director of ONAMET and heading it for the last ten years to be one of her major achievements. She led a major transformation of the national meteorological service which, according to her, gained credibility with more than 90% of the population and enhanced the reputation of meteorology as a profession. Furthermore, she managed to get young people interested in the field and helped more than 50 of them enroll in professional trainings at basic and intermediate levels. Today, these young meteorologists work in various technical departments of the institution. Ms Ceballos believes it is important to create links with local universities to encourage research in the field. She has been a university professor for 27 years at the Pedro Henríquez Ureña National University (UNPHU) and is currently teaching at the Technological University (UTESA) in Santiago de los Caballeros.
Nilay Dogulu is a PhD candidate at the Water Resources Laboratory, Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. She has always been fascinated by water and would often catch herself admiring the tranquillity before the rain or finding a harmony in the raindrops crashing down during a heavy storm. This fascination led Nilay to wonder about how the water moves on the Earth’s surface and why. After obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, she decided not to continue in that field. Instead, she followed her passion and pursued graduate studies in Hydrology and Hydroinformatics. She is currently a PhD candidate at the Water Resources Laboratory, Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey.
Nilay recognizes the great uncertainties that need to be overcome in climate, weather and hydrological sciences – all of which, in the end, should be reflected in the various services that these sciences provide to communities. Nilay acknowledges the challenges in communicating these uncertainties to communities, but also sees the opportunities for strengthening their resilience to climate, weather and hydrological extremes by increasing their meteorological and hydrological literacy. Nilay hopes to pave the way in her field for the active participation of society in climate, weather and hydrological risk management activities.
‘Jacob Bronowski says, “knowledge is an unending adventure at the end of uncertainty.’’ I am keen to continue living this adventure as much as possible to be able to understand nature along with its uncertainties.’
Nilay is grateful to the many great professors from around the world who supervised her during her academic career. As part of the Erasmus Mundus Master’s Programme in Flood Risk Management, which she attended on a full scholarship, Nilay had the opportunity to learn a wealth of information on various aspects of floods in four different European universities: Technische Universitat Dresden (Germany); IHE Delft Institute for Water Education (Netherlands); Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (Spain); and Univerza v Ljubljana (Slovenia).
Nilay believes that advancements in the hydrological sciences will depend – apart from high performance computing and advanced models with greater precision – on increasing the number of motivated and passionate researchers who can persistently tackle today’s scientific problems with devotion. In this respect, she believes in sustaining strong and motivated research groups in hydrology, especially in Turkey. Nilay is the current European Geosciences Union (EGU) Early Career Scientist Representative for Hydrological Sciences. She was, during 2016-2017, Chair of the Young Hydrologic Society, a network aspiring to enable the active participation and integration of early career researchers in the global hydrological community.
Daniela Jacob is Director of Climate Service Centre Germany (GERICS).
Torn between studying math or physics and her passion for glider flying, Daniela Jacob ultimately decided to study meteorology at the Technical University Darmstadt in Germany. After completing her PhD at GKSS Research Center, Daniela moved to Boulder, Colorado, to work at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). As a visiting scientist, Daniela simulated snowstorms with the Clark model using the two-way nesting technique. In 1993, she moved to Hamburg, Germany, where she carried out research at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. It was there that she first developed the regional climate model that could be used to calculate the regional impacts of climate change. Daniela proved distinct excellence in regional climate modelling and is the current director of the country’s first institute for climate services called Climate Service Centre Germany (GERICS).
‘Think about what is important for you and what makes you happy - if you are happy at work, success will come, too.’
Throughout her career, Daniela has experienced difficulties with men in higher positions who distrusted her skills as a scientist. She challenged their perceptions by consistently demonstrating excellence in research as well as persistence in her argumentation – she would keep on talking until they were convinced.
Nowadays, as a leading scientist and director, she encourages equal opportunities for all staff by promoting a healthy work and life balance and offering flexible working hours. She also makes sure that an equal share of male and female staff members are hired.
Daniela advises those who want to pursue scientific careers to think about what is important for to them and would make them happy – if you are happy at work, success will come.
Dr Agnes Kijazi rose from the lowest ranks of National Meteorological Service in the United Republic of Tanzania, which she joined in 1987 as a meteorological assistant, to be the Director General. She is the first woman in the East African Region to hold such a post and to be elected to the WMO Executive Council. She is now Permanent Representative of the the United Republic of Tanzania with the WMO.
A desire to further help her country to better cope with extreme weather events motivated Ms Kijazi to join the undergraduate program in Meteorology at the University of Nairobi in 1996. She completed her Bachelor of Science in 2000, and went on to do a Master’s in Environmental Science at the University of Cape Town in 2004. She earned her Doctorate in Meteorology at the University of Cape Town in 2008.
Unfortunately, women are discouraged from choosing scientific studies in Africa. They should not be. Instead, they should look at the women that have succeeded in these fields and know they can make it too.
Her career has brought her personal satisfaction, however, Dr Kijazi is most gratified to have paved a way for young women in science. “Unfortunately, women are discouraged from choosing scientific studies in Africa. They should not be. Instead, they should look at the women that have succeeded in these fields and know they can make it too,” urged Dr. Kijazi.
The key to success “is not only hard work, but also support from family and relatives” stated Dr. Kijazi who was married when she started her studies. “It turned out to be very important,” she said smiling.
Marisol Osman, a Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, has always been fascinated by the weather. She grew up in a small town in Argentina where agriculture was the main economic activity. Her family was always concerned about when and how much it was going to rain, as a hailstorm could damage the crops or a strong cold spell could harm the grass for the cattle. After flourishing in her math classes during primary and secondary school, Marisol decided to study Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Buenos Aires. The degree combined her love of math and physics and allowed her to channel interests from her youth. After successfully completing her degree, she continued her studies and recently received a PhD in Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences.
Marisol has been fortunate to have two great mentors in her life. The passionate climate scientist Carolina Vera is Marisol’s advisor and her main source of inspiration. Celeste Saulo’s1 skills at dialoguing and building bridges between people, disciplines and institutions also impresses Marisol, who would like to follow a similar career path.
“In my everyday life, I am inspired by those people that wake up every morning and go to work with a smile. I try to do the same as I feel touched for being able to do what I love.”
Regarding that career path, Marisol imagines herself working more closely with societal actors and building awareness of their needs and demands. Furthermore, she wishes to be more engaged in the activities of her University’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences through guiding and advising students while they develop their careers. Marisol believes that these kinds of activities enrich oneself and provide tools that can be applied in many aspects of everyday life.
Marisol sees the future as both promising and challenging at the same time as climate change is a reality and is one of the major hazards to current and future generations. Marisol believes that scientific knowledge cannot remain isolated and there is a great need to strengthen connections with other specialists and societal actors. On the other hand, she also envisions a promising future for young researchers in climate science. As part of the Executive Committee of the Young Earth System Science community (YESS), a network for early career scientists, Marisol sees many enthusiastic young people with fresh ideas and energy who are ready to face the scientific challenges that relate to climate change.
Professor Nadia Pinardi is passionate about science and its usefulness for society, so her decision to have a career in physics and mathematics was logical. “I like to understand the laws of nature. It is like artistic inspiration, providing a new vision of nature.”
Today, Pr Pinardi holds a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Harvard University and is an associate Professor of Oceanography at Bologna University, Italy. She directs the Operational Oceanography Group of the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia and is co-president of the Joint Committee for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM) of IOC-UNESCO (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and WMO since 2017. Professor Pinardi is a member of both the European Environment Agency Scientific Advisory Committee and the European Research Council for Earth Sciences, and was awarded the European Geophysical Union Fridtjof Nansen Medal for Oceanography in 2007 and the Roger Revelle Unesco Medal in 2008.
Pr Pinardi claims the key to success is “hard work because even geniuses have to work hard. And luck because I was lucky to find people who cared about my education and gave me a research topic so visionary that I built an entire career on it,” she explains.
She is proudest “to have started the field of ocean forecasting, down to the operational service design and implementation.” Though she claims that to be her greatest achievement, she insists that her biggest challenge was “to reconcile private and working life – bringing-up a family and having a career in scientific research.” Twisting the old saying to her personal experience she notes that, “Behind a great woman, there is always a caring man!”
The key to success is hard work because even geniuses have to work hard. And luck because I was lucky to find people who cared about my education and gave me a research topic so visionary that I built an entire career on it.
Her recommendation for young women starting a career in Applied Physics is “to look for people and institutions that have the highest level of scientific achievements and that have a mission.”
Dr Kornélia Radics is the first female President of the Hungarian Meteorological Service (OMSZ). She also serves as Permanent Representative of Hungary with WMO and, since 2018, as Vice-President of WMO Regional Association VI.
Recalling the time she started her scientific career, Ms Radics exclaims, “Geoscience was my passion!” She studied at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, where she obtained a Masters degree in Meteorology (1997), a Masters degree in Astronomy (1999), and her doctoral degree in Earth Sciences (2004). “My key to success was to take on the challenge of winning high-level state scholarships in my early years,” she acknowledges, noting that “meteorology has plenty of beautiful opportunities for researchers.” Her personal interests focus on wind forecasting, wind energy, climate change, and renewable energy sources.
The main challenge in my life is to balance my family life with two small daughters and my responsibilities at work. It is a demanding, but gratifying task for me.
In 2001, Ms Radics became senior meteorologist at the Meteorological Service of the Hungarian Defence Forces. Six years later, she became the Deputy Head of the Weather Forecast and Training Department of the Geoinformation Service of the Hungarian Defence Forces. She held this role until 2013 when she assumed the presidency of the Hungarian Meteorological Service. “The main challenge in my life,” recognizes Ms Radics “is to balance my family life with two small daughters and my responsibilities at work. It is a demanding, but gratifying task for me.”
Since 2014, Ms Radics is Associate President of the Hungarian Meteorological Society where she also served as Secretary-General in 2010-2014. Her recommendation to young female scientists is to believe in their potential.
Dr Debra Roberts is Chief Resilience Officer of the Sustainable and Resilient City Initiatives Unit in Durban (South Africa) and Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.
After completing her PhD in Urban Biogeography at the (then) University of Natal, South Africa, Debra Roberts initially pursued a career as a researcher. Her doctoral and post-doctoral research, however, highlighted the fact that academia at the time was not responding effectively to the challenges faced by urban policymakers and practitioners. In 1994, she decided to leave academia to join the local government, where her scientific knowledge could make a difference in the country and city she lived in.
Transitioning from science to practice, Debra faced several challenges. She describes, “once you become a practitioner you are no longer considered to be a scientist by many of the members of the more traditional scientific community. Practice is still seen by many traditional scientists as being unscientific.” In order to bridge this divide, Debra and her team have published their work in peer-reviewed literature to demonstrate that practitioner-scientists are an important source of knowledge. After joining local government, Debra found herself working in what was then a very traditional, hierarchical and male-dominated environment. Debra’s response was simply to get on with the job and let her work speak for itself.
Do not be deterred or intimidated, just keep your eye on the ball.
This hands-on mentality led her to establish the Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department of eThekwini Municipality (Durban, South Africa). In 2016 she was given the responsibility of establishing the new Sustainable and Resilient City Initiatives Unit in Durban and is the city’s first Chief Resilience Officer. Furthermore, she is the Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.
By providing strong, clear and consistently focused leadership, Debra has become a living example that women can be influential leaders, and that practitioner-scientists can help change the mainstream debate. Furthermore, she has also encouraged members of her team to study further and has established research partnerships with the local university in order to encourage and train the next generation of practitioner-scientists.
Debra’s words of advice, “Never leave the room – it is difficult to provide a bridge between the science and practice communities and often you will not fit in comfortably with either. Do not be deterred or intimidated, just keep your eye on the ball and know that it is the practitioner-scientist who has the greatest chance of changing the world.”
“If you do what you like it will be more interesting, and you will reach better results,” says Federica to young female scientists. She followed her own advice in her career. Fascinated by research, Federica Rossi earned a Ph.D. in Agricultural Science at the University of Bologna then dedicated her career to agriculture meteorology, a field she knew would have a big impact on people’s lives.
“Being a researcher is a hard job, but you need to be a 360° person and not only a scientist,” says Ms Rossi.
The various areas in which she is active certainly prove that:
- Senior Researcher at the Italian National Research Council, Institute of Biometeorology (IBIMET), leading the working team on Micrometeorology, Ecophysiology and Productivity of Natural and Agricultural Systems;
- Representative of Italy in the International Society Horticultural Science;
- Representatitve of Italy on the Management Committee of the Cost Action 734 “Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on European Agriculture” and of the Cost Action 718 “Meteorological Applications in Agriculture” (COST is one of the longest-running European frameworks supporting cooperation among scientists and researchers across Europe);
- Member of the Editorial Board of the Italian Journal of Agrometeorology;
- Web Editor and founding Member of the International Society of Agrometeorology;
- Vice-Director of the Fabbrica del Futuro, a Project of the Italian Ministry of Education and Research to improve the competitiveness of the Italian industry and of products branded “Made in Italy” within the global context; and
- Vice-President of WMO Commission for Agricultural Meteorology (CAgM) from 2010 to 2018.
The hardest challenge for a researcher like her is “the huge amount of time to be spent in finding money” she says. However, she believes that success takes dedication and bit of fantasy. She encourages young people to “dedicate time to others and to support people working with you.” She urges them to keep a positive attitude and to work in teams. “Do not be afraid to fight for your ideas, but respect the ideas of others.”
Dr Andrea Celeste Saulo has become the first woman to be elected Vice-President of WMO. She is the Director of the Argentinian National Meteorological Service and the Permanent Representative (PR) of Argentina. She also sits on the Scientific Steering Committee of the World Weather Research Programme since 2011. Through her work as PR, she believes she has discovered “another dimension of meteorology – what observers and forecasters do on a daily basis.” She is happy to contribute in making their work more visible and helping them to perform their job in better conditions. She is also particularly pleased to make the voice of her country, Argentina, and that of Latin America heard at on the international stage.
Meteorology offered me the opportunity to study physics in a more practical and less abstract manner, closer to everyday life.
Dr Saulo obtained her PhD in atmospheric sciences at the University of Buenos Aires in 1996. Her research interests focused on synoptic meteorology, surface-atmosphere interactions and short- to medium-range predictability over South America. In the last few years, she deepened her activity on interdisciplinary problems such as wind energy production, agricultural applications and early warning systems. “I have always loved mathematics and physics,” she says. “Meteorology offered me the opportunity to study physics in a more practical and less abstract manner, closer to everyday life.”
She recalls that “dedicating oneself to science was a complex thing in Argentina in 1990-2002. Salaries were extremely low and there were no opportunities for research grants. It took family support and much perseverance.”
Dr Saulo feels very satisfied with her academic and scientific career. She was full-time Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Buenos Aires and a research scientist at the Centre for Atmospheric and Ocean Research of the Argentina National Council of Sciences. She has authored and co-authored more than 40 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, and supervises many students both at the undergraduate and graduate level. “What I most enjoy is working with students -- teaching classes, conducting research and guiding their theses.” Her advice to young female scientists is to follow their intuition, pursue their passions, and not be afraid of competition or failure. “Try again: if you are convinced that this is the way to go and if you work with professionalism, the results will eventually materialize.”
Ms Keti Savvidou is the former Permanent Representative of Cyprus with WMO and Acting Director of the Department of Meteorology of the Republic of Cyprus since May 2015. Ms Savvidou’s career in meteorology started “accidentally.” Having obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Physics and a Master’s degree in Electronics and Radio Technology, she began looking for a job and was offered a position at the Meteorological Service as a Meteorological Assistant in 1983. It was there that she discovered that it was a very interesting and fascinating science. “The weather is always changing,” says Ms Savvidou, “and you never know what you are going to get.” A year later, she started working as a weather forecaster for the Aviation, Marine and General Public at the Larnaca Airport.
I was the only female amongst all the male forecasters,” she recalls, “and I also had to work hard to find a balance between my family and my career.
In 2009, Ms Savvidou joined the managerial team of the Department of Meteorology where she remains today. She considers her main achievements to be the implementation of a Quality Management System ISO 9001:2008 for the services provided by the Department as well as the National Supervising Authority Certification for service provision to civil aviation in accordance with European regulations.
When living close to the border between the United States of America and Canada, Barbara Tapia experienced extreme weather conditions for the first time. Marked by the experience, Ms Tapia decided to embark in a career in meteorology, “I thought that I would be able to better understand the dynamics of the atmospheric conditions that I had experienced. It was the best decision!” She holds a Bachelor Degree in Meteorology and a Masters Degree in Management and Public Policy.
Ms Tapia is the Vice-President of the WMO Commission of Climatology (CCl). She is also the Chief of the Meteorological Affairs Office of the Chilean Meteorological Service. During her career, she led the Working Group on Climate Services for South America, coordinated the implementation processes of two WMO Regional Climate Centres in the South America region and carried out other climate activities. In 2002, Ms. Tapia spent a year working for the WMO World Climate Programme.
I thought that I would be able to better understand the dynamics of the atmospheric conditions that I had experienced. It was the best decision!
Her work on climate issues has earned her recognition at the regional and international levels. She is also very proud to be the first female representative from South America elected as Vice-President of CCl.
Ms Tapia claims that success came from perseverance and always wanting to accomplish “something more” than others. But it wasn’t always easy. “Unfortunately, we women still need to go the extra mile to prove our abilities,” observed Ms Tapia. “I would recommend that young women scientists remain open-minded, because there are several different areas in which to develop one’s career in the meteorological field.”
Marianne Thyrring is the Permanent Representative of Denmark with WMO and the current Director General of the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI). She has over 20 years of experience in the field of environment and climate policy, including as Deputy Head of Cabinet for the Danish Commissioner for Environment at the European Commission and most recently as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment.
A trained political scientist, Ms Thyrring has also worked for many years in various leadership positions. Her interest in assuming the role of DMI Director General was largely driven by the high level of complexity involved, the relevance of the services provided and the need to develop new strategies and organizational models. In this capacity, she considers her major achievements to be in the area of research and development, free data policy, modern technology and high performance computing, all with the ultimate goal of providing Danish citizens with relevant and reliable information on weather and climate issues.
Ms Thyrring’s greatest challenge was working in a predominantly male world in which she was expected to perform at least 10% better than her male colleagues. She further observed that a lot of women find it difficult to freely express their ambitions and wishes, waiting to be “found” or “made.” Her advice to them is “to follow their dreams” and expand their knowledge whenever and wherever possible. It is not important at which point of their careers young women start working in management. What matters is “feeling the thrill of taking responsibility and driving changes as products of good leadership.”
Bringing up three successful children and combining family life with an interesting career are Ms Thyrring’s greatest achievements. She cautions young female colleagues against assuming responsibility for everything as it will make their careers suffer. Female professionals need to make sure that their domestic obligations are shared with their spouses. They should further be clear on what they want in life and their career.
In her spare time, Ms Thyrring loves cycling, running and swimming. She also enjoys theatre, music and literature, especially political biographies and stories concerning women and their different ways of living.
Ms Štefanija Tomaic (née Vukušić) is a former meteorologist at the Zavižan station on Mount Velebit, the highest in Croatia at 1 594 meters. Attracted to meteorology at a young age, she began her career at 18 and was the only female to work at the station in its history. From 1972 to 1976, Ms Tomaic worked in harsh and solitary conditions. She would often spot wolves in the distance and find traces of bears. The howling wind, endless fog and lightning and storms were hair rising and would chill her bones. “It’s no place for a woman up there!” were comments she often received.
Even before deciding to work at the Zavizan station, many told her it was not a fitting job for a woman, however, the negativity and her love for the work only reinforced her desire to continue pursuing her dream. “It may look like something terrifying, but while you are doing it, it’s not a big deal. You don’t feel afraid or suffer any hardship.”
During her time at the Zavizan station, Ms Tomaic was responsible for taking measurements and phoning in her report to the Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service in Zagreb. It took a three-hour climb to reach the station, then two hours to come down. Since the standard measurement times were at 07:00, 14:00 and 21:00, she had to be up and going often before 04:00 and until at least 22:00, which left little time for sleep. Between her various duties –measurements, observations, administration – she would find time to write, paint on glass and read.
In addition to the knowledge required, it is important to have a big heart, an iron will and great love for the work...
After the birth of her third son, her growing family commitments led Ms Tomaic to resign from the Zavizan station. Although she is currently retired and living in a village in the Northern Velebit National Park, she is still active in meteorology, taking daily care of the rain gauge station of the Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service in Krasno. She has also been sharing her love for meteorology with her grandchildren and hopes that one of them may follow in her footsteps one day.
Ms Tomaic encourages young people who are interested and enthusiastic about meteorology to study, but makes it clear that education is not the only requirement for this field. “In addition to the knowledge required, it is important to have a big heart, an iron will and great love for the work, especially if your intention is to work in the mountains where it gets crowded in the summer but there is virtually no one in the winter.”
Ms Fiona Tummon is the Director of the Stratosphere-troposphere Processes and their Role in Climate (SPARC) International Project Office.
Fiona Tummon, an atmospheric scientist, grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, a coastal city. Inspired by one of her mother’s friends, she decided to pursue an undergraduate degree in oceanography at the University of Cape Town. Studying a mix of biology, chemistry and physics, Fiona learned more about the big blue surrounding her hometown and gained a better understanding of how important the ocean was for Earth’s climate. This led to her completing a Masters degree in Atmospheric Science, followed by a PhD, jointly from the University of Cape Town and the Université Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III (France), focusing on the climatic impact of aerosols over southern Africa.
“I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, a city surrounded by the ocean. An encounter with one of my mother’s friends inspired me to pursue an undergraduate degree in oceanography. Studying a mix of biology, chemistry, and physics gave me the chance to learn more about the big blue surrounding my home town.”
In 2012, Fiona started her post-academic career as a Project Scientist for a World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Core Project named Stratosphere-troposphere Processes and their Role in Climate (SPARC). Currently serving as the Director of SPARC’s International Project Office, Fiona focuses on both research and science coordination, however, she would like to concentrate more on the latter. As projects become more multidisciplinary and international, proper coordination is vital in ensuring effective facilitation of quality science. The SPARC framework offers guidance, assistance, opportunities and visibility. This allows scientists to come together to discuss and present their research to each other, to create partnerships and to define new key scientific topics.
In the future, Fiona sees weather and climate science growing further together to provide truly seamless predictions. She recognizes that challenges still remain in terms of our understanding and ability to predict various temporal and spatial scales, particularly at the cross-over from traditional weather to climate scales. However, she is confident that the new generation of young scientists are ready to face these challenges and continue pioneering these crucial areas of research in order to provide solutions that will benefit society and the long-term advancement of Earth system sciences.
Carolina Vera is Professor at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) and the co-chair of Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
From a very young age, Carolina Vera has been fascinated by the weather. Inspired by her mother who taught her to admire natural phenomena, such as clouds and heavy storms, she decided to pursue a career in applied physics. Ultimately, she chose to study meteorology, which allowed her to combine her interests in weather and climate as well as in math and physics.
When Carolina started her PhD at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), she quickly became aware that being a woman working in science had both advantages and disadvantages. She realized that some male senior scientists and professors treated her differently from her fellow male students. For example, one of the professors did not feel comfortable discussing science topics with her during meetings and even went as far as to tell her: “I don’t want you to contradict me in public.” With her strong personality and the support of her advisor and mentor, Eugenia Kalnay, Carolina was able to overcome these issues and find her own way as a scientist.
Despite its challenges, being a woman from a developing country gave Carolina the opportunity to participate in international scientific committees and programmes at a very early stage in her career. On some occasions, she was the only woman in a meeting or a committee. Although she grasped these opportunities wholeheartedly, she always worked very hard to show that she deserved to be there on merit and not just because of gender or geographical balance.
“I have been very fortunate to meet amazing women trying to make progress in science. It has been easy for me to encourage and empower them in their career, just by explicitly recognizing their excellent skills and aptitudes.”
Carolina Vera is currently a professor at UBA and the co-chair of Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Her primary work is in enhancing the understanding of climate variability and change in South America and its applications for societal benefits. As a professor at the University, she has been very fortunate to meet amazing women who are passionate about advancing science. By explicitly recognizing their excellent skills and aptitudes, she encourages and empowers the careers of her students and is always ready to discuss any issues with them as well as find common solutions. She recognizes that it is an important role that every professor should have, but believes that it is particularly inevitable for female teachers to empower female students.