National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Shelia Deiotte
Shelia Deiotte

Location: Sacramento, CA
Sacramento Weather Forecast Office (WFO)
Job Title: Electronics Systems Analyst (ESA)
Shelia Deiotte



What is your name, and where did you grow up?

Shelia Deiotte.  I grew up in a small, rural town in Lenoir, NC near the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

Where did you go to college?

Antelope Valley College, CA and Anoka-Ramsey Community College, MN. 

When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in STEM?

I was a naturally curious child that really enjoyed learning about science.  I joined the Air Force in my mid-20s and was encouraged by the recruiter to pursue a career in Electronics.

How did anyone or anything you saw in the media influence your desire to go into the STEM field?

Even though there weren’t very many women in the Electronics career field when I joined the Air Force I was encouraged by watching Sandra Day O’Connor become the first female Supreme Court Justice and Sally Ride become the first female American astronaut in space.  It made me proud when years later I too broke a “first” barrier by becoming the first female Western Region Electronics Systems Analyst (ESA).

Looking back to your childhood, to what extent do you believe your interest in STEM was accepted and praised?

It wasn’t.  When I decided to join the Air Force and work in the Electronics Research and Development career field my own mother asked me why I wanted a “man’s job”.  It wasn’t until later after she seen how much I loved my job and how good I was at it that she became my biggest supporter:)

When you were in school, what were some barriers or opportunities to express an interest in the natural and physical sciences?

Young girls weren’t encouraged to pursue STEM during the 70’s.  Teachers would often fail to call upon our raised hands to answer questions in science or math classes.  There were times when we were graded more harshly than our male counterparts and made fun of when we presented our science projects.

Current Work:

How long have you been working at NWS?

10 years

What is your current position at NWS?

Electronics Systems Analyst (ESA)

Did you start in this position?

If not, what was your first position?  No, I worked as an Electronics Technician at the Salt Lake City WFO/RFC and as an AWIPS Regional Maintenance Specialist at Western Region Headquarters prior to being promoted to the ESA position at the Sacramento WFO/RFC.

What would you say is the best thing about working at NWS?

The people!!!  We have some of the hardest working, talented, and innovative women and men all dedicated to providing the best products and services to our customers and core partners.

Women in STEM Now and in the Future:

Why do you think there are so few women in STEM careers?

Lack of access to opportunities and exposure to STEM careers at a young age, stereotypes and prejudices about a woman’s capabilities to perform the job and lack of mentorship from women who have broken the glass ceiling.

Why do you believe there should be more women in STEM fields?

My hope is that gender bias in all areas of our society can be decreased by encouraging more females to pursue STEM careers.   We all win when we embrace the creative talents and collaborative nature of our young women and promote them to positions where they can make an impact.

Do you believe there is a need for more women at NWS? Why or why not?

Yes, it is absolutely essential that we hire a diverse workforce that reflects our society.  Numerous studies have shown that organizations that hire more women and promote women to leadership roles thrive and succeed at higher rates.

Do you have any advice for women and girls interested in STEM careers?

Try not to be discouraged if you are the only girl or women in your class.  Find strength in the many wonderful examples of strong women that come before you and have succeeded.  When you break that glass ceiling (and you will, never doubt it) don’t forget to mentor and give support to those who are still trying.

In what ways have you encouraged young women to explore an interest in STEM?

By acting as a role model to my two daughters and encouraging other young women in our community to pursue STEM career fields talking to them about the rewards of working in the STEM field.  I have also mentored several female ESAs and electronics technicians.

Additional Questions for Bloggers:

How do you spend your time outside of work?

Hiking.  Fishing.  Spending time with family and friends.