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.