Keeping a Man’s World for the Men

Shipmates

I think it is fair to say that we recognize the maritime industry as a man’s world, despite the rapid growth of women taking the helm. We bust our asses working just as hard, if not harder, than our male counterparts. However, it often makes me wonder, when will the sexual harassment cease, or at least decline? Is there no respect for your female counterparts doing the same work as you on the water?

I sailed with a highly reputable company for 80 days this past fall. I saw two crew changes and interacted with many personalities. The entire time, I was the youngest and only female onboard. I like to think of myself as a pretty tough woman. I can take a joke and dish it back out, if I have a problem with something, I won’t hesitate to bring it to your attention. While onboard, I became close with the second rotation officers and crew. The new bosun was quick to comment about my body after he saw me going ashore in PEV one afternoon. I tried to redirect the conversation, maybe he would have got the hint that it made me uncomfortable. But it continued. Something new and raunchy was said nearly everyday. I confided with a few of my fellow officers about what was going on. One of the ABs was very aware of what was happening as well. Officers and the AB told me that the bosun has made the other female workers on board uncomfortable. The one woman transferred ships, the other took a LOA. It was often joked about because the big salty bosun was making moves on the only woman on board. Once, he suggested that I should wear heels for him, because he liked my legs but I was a little too short for him, and he liked his women in heels anyway. My captain was unapproachable, despite me trying different ways to approach the man. I tried common interests, asking questions, going out of my way if he needed assistance with something. Nothing.

When I disembarked, I filed a report with the company. It took a long time to hear a response back regarding the investigation. But it finally came, the report of the investigation… “All officers mentioned
in her statement (2M, 3M and 3M) deny having any previous knowledge of the situation with the cadet
and bosun, stating that they did not have much interaction with her during their time onboard.” And it continued, “When I spoke with the Bosun, he denied ever making any inappropriate
comments. He stated that she would come to him a lot and confide in him with other issues she was having while onboard.” Finally, “Unsubstantiated, no one could confirm that the bosun made any
inappropriate comments towards her. Also, could not confirm that the officers mentioned they knew what was going on.” This came like a kick to the gut. I would say balls, but those seem to be strictly for the ships. How is the industry ever going to progress with proper respect towards female counterparts? Maybe the men are keeping it for the men.

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The other one’s back; you can kill this one. :slight_smile:

Thank you! I wound up having to make a new account anyway.

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Good Morning All

I think it is fair to say that we recognize the maritime industry as a man’s world, despite the rapid growth of women taking the helm. We bust our asses working just as hard, if not harder, than our male counterparts. However, it often makes me wonder, when will the sexual harassment cease, or at least decline? Is there no respect for your female counterparts doing the same work as you on the water?

I sailed with a highly reputable company for 80 days this past fall. I saw two crew changes and interacted with many personalities. The entire time, I was the youngest and only female onboard. I like to think of myself as a pretty tough woman. I can take a joke and dish it back out, if I have a problem with something, I won’t hesitate to bring it to your attention. While onboard, I became close with the second rotation officers and crew. The new bosun was quick to comment about my body after he saw me going ashore in PEV one afternoon. I tried to redirect the conversation, maybe he would have got the hint that it made me uncomfortable. But it continued. Something new and raunchy was said nearly everyday. I confided with a few of my fellow officers about what was going on. One of the ABs was very aware of what was happening as well. Officers and the AB told me that the bosun has made the other female workers on board uncomfortable. The one woman transferred ships, the other took a LOA. It was often joked about because the big salty bosun was making moves on the only woman on board. Once, he suggested that I should wear heels for him, because he liked my legs but I was a little too short for him, and he liked his women in heels anyway. My captain was unapproachable, despite me trying different ways to approach the man. I tried common interests, asking questions, going out of my way if he needed assistance with something. Nothing.

When I disembarked, I filed a report with the company. It took a long time to hear a response back regarding the investigation. But it finally came, the report of the investigation… “All officers mentioned
in her statement (2M, 3M and 3M) deny having any previous knowledge of the situation with the cadet
and bosun, stating that they did not have much interaction with her during their time onboard.” And it continued, “When I spoke with the Bosun, he denied ever making any inappropriate
comments. He stated that she would come to him a lot and confide in him with other issues she was having while onboard.” Finally, “Unsubstantiated, no one could confirm that the bosun made any
inappropriate comments towards her. Also, could not confirm that the officers mentioned they knew what was going on.” This came like a kick to the gut. I would say balls, but those seem to be strictly for the ships. How is the industry ever going to progress with proper respect towards female counterparts? Maybe the men are keeping it for the men.

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I’m very sorry to hear that this happened to you. I notice you do not mention the Chief Mate or the DPA. Were either of these individuals notified of your concerns? All of the companies I’ve worked for take harassment very seriously and the captain would be canned for not doing anything.

As a Captain, I do not like to hear stories like this. Unapproachable does not relieve this Master from doing his duty. There are good ships out there. It sounds like you got on a bad one.

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Sorry you got on a ship like that. They are far and few in this day and time. Many safeguards/protocols were put up for the cadets, male and female at all or most of the academys a few years ago… That type of treatment is not welcome nor encouraged by the industry. Many of the Jones Act carriers worked with Marad to form these guidelines. In order to get the young men and women aboard, and not have their subsidies affected. As you may or not know, many cadets were suspended from sailing for their sea years until this harrassment thing got worked out. HR at the companies and your particular school claim to not tolerate this stuff, and have a vested interest to enforce it. That Captain on your ship perhaps was on the fringe, but is well aware of the recent changes in how we treat people. and has a duty to address your concerns. Perhaps if the captain or Cmate could have had a chat with the “Knuckle Dragger” at first verified complaint and made this go away sooner rather than later your trip would have been better.

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Very sorry you have been treated inappropriately, without respect, and that no one will take responsibility for allowing it to happen. Would you mind naming the vessel?

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DamnYankee’s right, you got dealt a bad hand. It happens. Progress has been made but remember you’re still a pioneer in a trade which men have dominated. There are plenty of knuckle draggers still roaming the earth.

Better luck on your next hitch.

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What is PEV?

Bottom line is it’s not.

The bad news is you are not alone. I’ve talked with dozens of women with the same story, including my wife. Kathy Metcalf talked specifically about this at the WISTA North America meeting last year.

The good news is that, in just the last few years, a number of women’s groups have formed like WomenOffshore.org and Sea Sisters. These groups have put together a powerful group of mentors, who can help advise you on the next steps to take.

:sleepy:

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Port Everglades Florida

Unfortunately in many situations fringe parties to the situation often do not wish to get involved. If there are no first hand witnesses it usually boils down to their word against yours. That said, if you look back on your 80 day rotation you would likely have done things differently if you knew then what you know now.
Even if the Captain was unapproachable that should not have stopped you from making a formal complaint to him, aboard ship, when the issues with the bosun started. It would have been a lot easier to escalate from there reporting wise. You mentioned one AB was very aware of the situation. It is easier for him (and others) to be a collaborating witness when you were aboard rather than after you left. Lastly, if necessary, record the asshole if there are no witnesses willing to step forward.

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Interesting. The good news is, you’re in luck. As a woman, you are included in what’s called a “protected class” or “protected group”:

and thus you have legal avenues to pursue.

You said you sailed with a reputable operator and as such they will have a management system (MS) which will detail how anti-harassment they are as a company. As you found out, the key is documentation and proof. As a cadet, I certainly wouldn’t expect you to know all the in’s and out’s of how all this works…that is, how it ACTUALLY works not how it SEEMS to work as written in the MS.

This is the key…take this as a learning experience of what to do next time (as there probably will be a next time if you pursue this as a career).

  1. you mentioned:

I wouldn’t recommend this. “dishing it back out” only emboldens the “jokes” and will certainly lead to someone crossing that ever elusive line of when a joke becomes harassment. Don’t go there and don’t allow anyone else to go there. It always ends badly.

  1. Once it does happen, tell the person immediately that it is not appropriate. Use key words such as “I find your comment inappropriate and harassing in nature. I would like you to stop.” That checks like three boxes from the videos we all have to watch and should definitely get his/her attention. Take note of date, time, and if any witnesses were present.

  2. If it continues after that, have no mercy. Calmly say the exact thing as mentioned above but then email your department head (1AE/Chief Mate). Mention the date/time/witness info you saved from before. Preferably email from a company computer/company email address but if not available to you, then use your own email. Once it gets to this point, expect it to go all the way to the office. In today’s reality with this stuff, what management level officer that’s going to sit on this? Nobody…it’s going to the top.

  3. If anybody (especially a senior officer) gives you any shit about doing this, simply ask them “Just to be clear, are you trying to influence me to not report the sexual harassment that I have experienced here?” Maximize the number of witnesses when posing this question. If you receive ANY resistance to ANY portion of this procedure, simply utilize the company’s open reporting system.

  4. If all that doesn’t work, time to get a lawyer. Each of the above steps should be documented (print emails, screenshots, whatever you need to do). Might also recommend finding a suitable financial advisor as you will need to figure out how to invest your upcoming settlement.

Best of luck.

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Reliable witnesses and a paper trail can save your bacon.

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Sucks you had to be in this situation. It sounds like you ended up working on a pretty awful ship. If not a single one of the officers you confided in advised you to got to the Master or DPA with this info, then they really have no business in a leadership position.

I am really torn about the question you ask about proper respect towards females. I wish I could say the harassment will go away, but I tend to agree with John. I know of 1 friend in the last year who contacted the company about a Captain sexually harassing her and a second female officer. The investigation did not find anything and it was conducted by a woman.

The good news is there are many good ships out there that you will allow your treatment to be based on your work ethic not your gender.

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Please don’t judge the whole industry & your future career based on this bad experience. It sounds like you worked on a shitty ship with shitty crew. If you get a job on a research ship you might discover that females can out number or nearly out number the men on board if you count the scientists & students. I’ve worked a bunch of voyages like that. Good job reporting it. It’s been a long time since I worked with a real racist & I haven’t heard anyone harass a gay person in a long time either. The jerk boson must not value his paycheck that much & have some serious connections in the company or union. The witnesses around aren’t too smart either because they could just as easily get fired for seeing harassment & not reporting it. Hopefully the next time someone reports him somebody with some sense will fire him & anyone standing in earshot of his inappropriate comments.

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So looks like this was legit and deleted in error.

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The research ships are great but this is 2020 and marad has spent millions training companies and issuing personal harassment Satellite beepers to thousands of cadets. And if it’s a “highly reputable company” (which I don’t doubt) then they have probably have spent millions more on hr policies to prevent this.

Everyone knows the rules. So why is it still a crap shoot?

And the OP isn’t the only one. For every woman who posts here there are a dozen who pm me and dozens more who don’t post anything at all.

Why can’t women join a regular ship without rolling the dice and praying that this is “one of the good ones”?

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Women can speak up all we want, but really need men on our side calling other men out. There needs to be a shift in the culture. From what I’ve read, I got a bad apple and many others have had great ships. However, captains often set the tone of their vessels, but this can be shifted from our younger generation of officers.

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That’s an easy question to answer. Because there’s pockets of assholes still around that haven’t been fired yet.

In my 25 years at sea I have seen our industry turn from “a little bit of oil over the side is okay” to “one drop of oil in the water & you can lose your job, documents & maybe go to jail”. If we can all get on board about stopping any oil overboard we can get our industry to a place where females & gays don’t feel like they are throwing the dice while carrying their bags on board. I hate to say this but perhaps we should treat harassment the same as we treat illegal oil discharges? If the Mastet or Chief Engineer hears about a crew member putting oil over the side that is a huge freaking deal because it will likely be the Master or Chief Engineer who takes the fall. I wouldn’t mind if companies put it in their SMS that senior officers get punished just like the jerks doing the harassment if the problem has to be taken care of from shore instead of on board. That would go a long way at stopping on board harassment IMO. Investigate the Master as much as the bosun & make them remember it.

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