More women at the Pacific Meteorological Council tables


Ten years ago, at the Second Pacific Meteorological Council there was one woman at the head of the table representing her national Met Service.

At the Sixth Pacific Met Council Wednesday there are six women at the table propelled by the saying – “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

The World Meteorological Organisation has cemented actions to achieve “gender equality and building resilience through the provision of gender-sensitive weather, hydrological and climate services which respond to the specific needs and socioeconomic circumstances of women and men.”

Across the Pacific, the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services are working towards growing gender representation within their agencies.

Director of Meteo France in French Polynesia, Sophie Martinoni leads a team of 70 of which 20 are women who hold roles such as a climate expert, climatologist, administration and a maintenance technician.

“In this work, we can really help society by preventing society from disasters, so we have to get involved in these jobs. There is plenty of room for women,” said Martinoni.

“In French Polynesia, the issue is that not enough girls choose science studies while still at school. That is the biggest issue because if you don’t choose it at the start then you will find it harder to become a technician or engineer. We must encourage girls to study science in school.”

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, home of the Pacific Met Desk Partnership the Secretariat of the Pacific Met Council is based within the Climate Change Resilience Programme for which the Director is a woman, Tagaloa Cooper.
The WMO welcomes in its very first female Secretary-General Professor Celeste Saulo, who was appointed by Congress and will take office on 01 January 2024.

In Tonga, the National Met Service now have its very first women climatologist. Twenty years ago, there was one woman working in the Met Service, today are there 10 women out of a staff of 40 with plans to grow this number.

“We still have a way to go to get the representation of women that we want but it’s very important in this field that women are part of our team because of the skillsets and perspectives things they bring to the table,” said Ofa Fa’anunu, Director of the Tonga Meteorological Service.

“It is important we have women meteorologists; we are hoping to get our numbers to get to the level that is similar to that of men in the organisation.”

Dr Gingerlei Porter of American Samoa, the Director of the Pacific International Training Desk Programme at the University of Hawaii is encouraged by the increase of women’s representation at the Pacific Met Council calling upon more women to be active within this space.

“There’s so much opportunity here, and there is so much that we can contribute to as women in this space of meteorology and disaster management in general,” said Dr Porter.

“I think there is a lot of value that women bring to the table when it comes to community resilience and the field of Meteorology. We tend to think it’s such a technical field but look where we have come! There was one woman at this table ten year ago and now we have several of them. There are young women here, and that is the power!”

American Samoa, French Polynesia, Niue, Palau, Samoa, and SPREP have women speaking for their agencies at the Sixth Pacific Meteorological Council in Fiji this week. During the Second PMC in Fiji ten years ago, the only woman at the table was the Director of the Palau National Weather Service Maria Ngemae, now she is also joined by Rossy Pulehetoa-Mitiepo, Director of the Niue Meteorological Service who joined their met service straight out of school starting as an Assistant Forecaster.

Pulehetoa-Mitiepo had a love for science and with an inquisitive mind, this field is one she enjoys.

“Don’t be afraid in opening up your horizons to the science world, we have the same privilege as our colleagues who are men in the field of Met and climate science, don’t be afraid to take up the role as directors of Met in the Pacific,” said Pulehetoa-Mitiepo.

“The opportunity is available to the women who are now working as Met Officers in the Met Services, take up the opportunity and help us aim for gender balance in the Pacific Meteorological Council!” she said.