NOAA History Banner
gold bar divider
home - takes you to index page
about the site
noaa - takes you to the noaa home page
search this site
white divider
arrow A Nation at War
arrow WWII
arrow Personal Accounts

women in the weather bureau during world war 2

Page: left arrow 1 2 3 4  5 6 7 8 9 10  11  12  13 14  15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29
30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 click for next page

Personal View of Irene Behrt Brodie

Irene Brodie with weather balloonMy employment with the Weather Bureau was from 1945 to 1947 at Lander, Wyoming. At that time I was unmarried and used my maiden name, Irene Gehrt. My previous background had been high school graduation and secretarial work in civil service - War Department. The Weather Bureau provided six weeks of meteorological aide training in Kansas City. I left the Weather Bureau in March, 1947, to be married.

The opportunity had come for a challenging and interesting type of work. A call was issued for women, already in Civil Service, to apply. I worked for the War Department in Wichita, Kansas in 1944, specifically for the Army Air Corps. They had all their offices at the municipal airport as were the Weather Bureau facilities. In the spring of 194S, when the war efforts were all pointing to victory in both Europe and Japan, the personnel department put everyone on notice that the offices would start to gradually be phased out, putting a lot of women out of jobs eventually.

At this time, the Official in Charge of the Wichita Weather Bureau put out a notice that there were lots of vacancies in the Weather Bureau stations in the thirteen western states and Alaska. If any women were interested, aptitude tests would be given with emphasis on mathematics, and if passed, Civil Service transfers would be arranged as well as the training period in Kansas City. Several women did apply, but only eight or ten went through with the program and training from the Wichita area. At the end of our training, we could choose which station we wanted to go to so most of us went in different directions and I chose Lander, Wyoming. I was never sorry for the choice and it has been my home since then. I am married to a rancher, have five children, six grandchildren and look back to my choice of this Weather Bureau station as a blessing in disguise.

At the station, my duties included observations, map plotting, telephoning reports, and plotting the charts. I worked three shifts - changing every week - day, swing, and graveyard. We normally worked eight hours a day -forty hours a week. There were five women and four men at the station. I don't remember my grade or amount of pay, but it was considerably more than women were earning at other types of jobs.

Working for the Weather Bureau during World War II was exciting. We were filling jobs for the men in service, and I worked through the end of World War II and saw the return of fellows to the Weather Bureau. I liked and enjoyed it from the training period and on through my employment time. I was made very welcome by my fellow employees. The morale on station was high.

The high point of my career was learning and doing the RAOB observations. Low point was having to quit. Would I do it again? Yes - it is such an interesting and fascinating field. I think that one of my major contributions was filling a void in a field necessary to civilian and military operations.

When I came to Lander in 1945, the Weather Bureau was in the Post Office building with the instruments on the roof. The balloons for the RAOBs were inflated in an unheated Forest Service garage behind the Post Office. In the cold Wyoming winter it was pretty uncomfortable and in order to correctly coordinate the radiosonde settings with the recorder in the office, we would warm our hands around an uninsulated hot water tank in the garage, then stand with our back to the tank to keep from shivering until time to release the balloon! In 1946, a new building was built at the Lander airport with all the latest equipment and room for all phases, a very welcomed improvement. Since then, another new building was built several years ago. A radiosonde radio kit and parachute were found in the hills about 60 miles from Lander and given to me last year. I took it to the Weather Service office and was shown how things are done nowadays - practically all automatic and computerized! However, sitting in a corner was the old RAOB recorder I had worked on 45 years ago!


- Top of Page -

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.

Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

Privacy Policy | Disclaimer