A Comparison of Men and Women Weathercasters: Education, Positions, and Presence in Local TV (Credit: American Meteorological Society)
Discussion: A study recently published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society evaluated the presence, position, and education of women weathercasters in local TV. The purpose of the study was to “determine updated numbers that reflect whether women are gaining more positons and influence in local TV weather broadcasting compared to the past”. This was evaluated by examining if a correlation exists between how many female weathercasters hold meteorological degrees and are chief meteorologist. Finally, it examined if there was a correlation between having a meteorological degree and working in a larger market.
Altogether, the data were obtained between February 27 and October 20, 2016, and represented 2,040 weathercasters. Of that total, 1,444 were men and 596 were women. Local TV station personnel and websites across the U.S. provided the data for this study. Additionally, an up-to-date list of local network affiliates and regional cable channels from 210 U.S. markets was compiled via the website NewsBlues. From station websites, weathercaster biographies provided personal information including the level of education, whether or not that individual earned a degree, and their position at the station. Finally, personnel from each station provided more detailed, short biographies on news and weather team members to fill in any informational gaps.
Images 1 & 2. Data of weathercaster degrees from the recent study.
This study was one of the first to compare the number women and men weathercasters holding meteorology degrees. When polling the educational backgrounds, as seen in image 1, the majority of both male and female degrees were meteorology undergraduate degrees (778 men and 282 women). Interestingly enough, both male and female meteorology degrees were more common in smaller markets (seen in image 2). The next most common educational backgrounds included communication/journalism degrees, professional meteorology certificates such as the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association Seals of Approval for TV Weathercasting, meteorology master’s degrees, and other science degrees.
Images 3-5. Data of the four most common positions by gender from the recent study.
Image 6. Data of chief meteorologists from the recent study.
The four most common positions of weathercasting are evening, morning, weekend, and daytime. As seen in images 3 and 5, This study found that most women weathercasters, 44%, worked the least desired and least prestigious time slot, the weekend shift. The next 37% of women worked mornings. There is a huge imbalance in the male to female ratio of evening weathercasters. 45% of men weathercasters hold this prime-time shift (images 4 and 5) while only 14% of women weathercasters work evenings (image 3). This percentage was actually lower than a previous study in 2008 that found nearly a third of women weathercasters worked in the evening/prime-time shift. Similarly, out of all chief meteorologists, only 8% are female (image 6).
Overall, this study found that the total percentage of women weathercasters in local TV has increased. Even so, women are underrepresented in the field as they mainly work undesired weekend shifts. Much fewer women than men have meteorological degrees, hold evening positions, and hold high-ranking positions including chief meteorologist. Finally, it may be useful to explore additional contributing factors for to further comprehend the results of this study.
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© 2018 Weather Forecaster Amber Liggett