What #sweatergate says about sexism and weather forecasters

In case you missed it, Los Angeles television station KTLA tried to break Twitter on Saturday, when a female meteorologist was basically told on air to cover up.

During the segment, a male co-host interrupted Liberté Chan offering her a sweater. He said — on air! — that the station was “getting a lot of emails” about her dress. She played along and later wrote a blog entry stating that the incident was not sexist.

The #sweatergate hashtag cropped up on Twitter along with a fair amount of outrage. The New York Times has written up what happened. The Washington Post’s deputy weather editor, Angela Fritz, wrote that it “exemplifies the unfortunate way that women in TV meteorology are treated.”

“Over in the ‘weather world,’ ” what happened “didn’t really come as a surprise,” Fritz wrote. Partly because of the station’s history of “apparent ‘bloopers'” and partly because of May sweeps, Fritz wonders if Saturday’s moment was staged, citing various examples and the station’s recent history.

“At the end of the day, these kinds of stunts simply make it that much harder for female meteorologists to do their jobs. And it’s already really hard,” Fritz wrote. “Women on TV endure an unending wave of verbal attacks for their appearance. They are sexually harassed and otherwise degraded via email and on social media.

Fritz concluded by saying incidents paint “a bad image of women in the field — women who, on occasion, are required to communicate life-saving information to their viewers.”

Reader Comments 0