After I got out of the service, I drifted for awhile in the maritime industry, but eventually found myself working on small overnight passenger vessels. Although most of the women on those ships were in the Hotel department, there were quite a few of us in the deck department and in the pilothouse - and I was the only one that had any prior service. By the way, until I got promoted to Captain, I always had to share my room, usually with the other mate, and that person was usually a guy. No big deal because we just learned to respect each other’s space and schedule, but I do want to acknowledge that I was pretty lucky and didn’t have too many idiots to contend with. (Although I’ve now seen more old guys in tighty whiteys than any one person should ever have to…)
On one of the boats I sailed with a woman who was in her upper 50s, had been a really high mucky-muck executive at Xerox, then chucked it all and found herself working for me as a deckhand. There were definite limitations to her upper body strength, but like Capt. Fran said, there are always workarounds. The guys figured out pretty quickly that she had an amazing work ethic, never complained, rarely asked for help and was always figuring out how to “work smarter, not harder”. And since she had such a great attitude about her work, her male deck partners always enjoyed working alongside her.
Anyway, my point is to let you know that there are many many segments in the maritime industry and we would all be lying if we said they were all equally progressive and welcoming of women into their ranks. If you want some information on the small passenger vessel industry, shoot me a PM and we can chat about it.
Best of luck,