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women in the weather bureau during world war 2

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Personal View of Dorothy Gay Sawyer

Dorothy Sawyer 1944 I worked for the Weather Bureau from January 3rd, 1944, to January of 1949 at the Boeing Field Observation Unit, Seattle, Washington. A friend taking flying lessons at Felts Field in Spokane heard that the Weather Bureau needed new employees and told me. It sounded like an interesting job - I had just gotten my pilot's license and was interested in weather. When I started, I was employed as Dorothy J. Gay -changed June, 1946, to Dorothy Gay Sawyer (married.) In January, 1949, I left the Weather Bureau because I was expecting my first child.

I was appointed as SP-3 at S1440 per year.; received an upgrade on June 27, 1948 - SP-1350-6 at $2895.60. I retired at $3351.00.

My previous educational experience was an associate Degree from Spokane Jr. College, including three credits CAA Ground School and private pilot's license. The Weather Bureau provided a six-week course at the Weather Bureau Office in downtown Seattle.

I was received well by the Weather Bureau employees. The male forecasters were not too thrilled with women observers but they were a nice group to work with. The Bureau was a great place to work at an interesting job with a nice group of people. The morale on station was good.

The duties were as follows: Took hourly surface observations without supervision for a large part of the time and took three and six-hourly synoptic observations. Also issued special reports when required and special synoptic observations for transmission. Relayed airway weather reports to airport traffic control tower and airway traffic control center by interphone; relayed check observations to switchboard operators for public dissemination. Entered on station records data obtained from autographic instruments such as triple register, barograph and thermograph; made monthly computations of wind data to determine prevailing wind direction; made monthly compilation of cloud height data. Checked observations taken by observer on previous shift for accuracy and adherence to regulations; answered telephone calls pertinent to observations. Kept teletype weather reports which came in constantly - filed in proper place for use by forecasters.

I worked all shifts - days, evenings, nights - eight hours per day - 48 hours per week until the war ended - then 40 hours.

There was only one woman forecaster at my duty station in the five years I was there. {here were all women in the coding unit - women charters - mostly all observers were women. The low point of my Weather Bureau career was a plane crash on take-off from the field in December, 1948.

Working for the Weather Bureau was interesting. There were a variety of duties - mostly good people to work with - new things to learn constantly. For those reasons I would choose to work there again.

I feel that my major contributions included just doing a good job that needed to be done and enjoying the work.

Interesting experiences? Sorry, it has been too long ago and too many other lives since then to remember much from over 40 years ago. I still have one friend from 1944 that I still- see.


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