“I have worked in aeronautical meteorology for many years and I can say that aviation is a domain where men outnumber women. Staying true to my convictions and using my expertise helped me overcome this challenge.”
With over 25 years of experience in aeronautical meteorology, Ms Stéphanie Wigniolle Desbios is now Vice-President of the WMO Commission for Aeronautical Meteorology. She has previously served, on behalf of the Météo-France Department for Meteorological Services for Aviation, on different expert groups of the WMO and of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). She has contributed to the evolution of the ICAO Annex 3, Meteorological Services for International Air Navigation as well as to the design and development of the SYNERGIE Information System Programme in aeronautics, among others. According to Ms Wigniolle Desbios, successfully combining work and family life has been one of her greatest achievements.
“I have been fascinated by what happens in the sky for a while. When I was a child, I used to leave my bed at night to watch any thunderstorm occurring over the city I lived in. Some family relatives used to travel by air a lot and to talk about the encountered phenomena, such as tropical convective clouds or auroras. I was amazed and found it exciting to try to understand them. When the geography curriculum at school included a large section about meteorology, it became clear that this domain was the one I wanted to study.”
Overcoming challenges and key to success
Ms Wigniolle Desbios felt that the level of her physics and mathematics would not be sufficient to pass the exams in meteorology. However, support from her family and university professors made a difference - they really helped. The key to success, she thinks, was that she never changed her mind and did her best to find the most relevant way to achieve her objective within the French educational system.
Advice to young female scientists
Ms Wigniolle Desbios recommends that young female scientists persevere. She continues: “Weather and atmospheric phenomena have not been created by human beings; they are part of this nature that surrounds us, men and women, and that we are both part of.”
Interviewed in April 2019