Women Seafarers


I am currently in my mid-twenties and thinking about a career change. I got my eye on a college that has a four year degrees for hydrography and maritime officer. Both seem incredibly interesting and needless to say involve a lot of time on ships, which makes them even more appealing to me. <br><br>But before I make a decision there is something I very curious about. I am woman and I have had some jobs where I could not advance unless I would bat my eye-lashes and wear short skirts and I am really not into that. I have never faced harassment, but the general attitude of my male colleagues and their expectations of how a woman should behave, that I am not willing to live up to, has made my current job dead end.<br>Highly annoying.<br><br>I know that, like with the industry I am currently in, the maritime world is heavily male dominated. Personally I don’t care if my colleagues are men or women, I just want to work with skilled people, but a lot of the time my male colleagues seem to care very much and do not hold me to the same standards as they do their male co-workers.<br><br>Is this an attitude I can expect at sea as well? Or is advancement based on skills and experience, regardless of a person’s sex? Are women being held to the same standards as men at sea?<br>Basically the questions is: Are women treated differently than men, on board?<br><br>I apologize if this post comes off as aggressive or as an accusation, but this is something that I unfortunately have to keep in mind when considering working in a certain industry.


Fellow shipmates that were women on the training cruises at SUNY Maritime are held to the same standard in my experience. There are some who are more social, but there were some who weren’t and they both did fine; they had separate quarters and did the same work, such as wire-wheeling, painting, and chipping. <br>I haven’t seen women at work beside me on the ship I work on (they work different areas/shifts), but there are strict sexual harassment policies, also in the maritime schools, so I think that the industry is fair. <br>Hopefully you can get in touch with some female mariners out there.


The Women’s Maritime Association (http://www.womensmaritimeassoc.com/) is an excellent resource for any woman that is either in the maritime industry, or thinking of joining. I would give them a call.


While I have never worked with a women, as an officer I would expect you to do the same thing as everyone else, and most of the other captains I’ve worked with are the same way. <br><br>Most company makes a big deal about sexual harassment. You are encouraged to contact the legal dept. directly if you think the officers can not help you, and it is taken vary seriously. While I have never heard about a sexual harassment complaint, I have had discussions were hostile workplace was thrown around and that got the attention of the office personal. With sexual harassment being higher up on the scale I’m sure it would be handled in a quick and satisfactory manner. <br><br>I think in this industry if you want to be taken seriously you have to act seriously, wearing mini skirts and batting your eye lashes would work against you. So you have the right mind set.


I usually encourage women to join this industry, but sometimes I encourage them to look elsewhere. I usually encourage men to join this industry, but sometimes I encourage them to look elsewhere. <br><br>At sea, my test is simple: Male and female, if I can sleep while you’re on bridge watch, you’re welcome aboard my vessel. If I can’t, we’ve got issues we’ll deal with over time, and hopefully it will work out. It has nothing to do with gender roles. <br><br>I recognize the challenges that women face when entering a field that was once 100% populated by men. It ain’t easy. Women who make a success of themselves in the maritime field have my utmost respect.


I think for females entering the maritime field this is a legitimate concern and I am glad you posted about it so others can share their advice and experiences. When I began working aboard ships I was young and dare I say, attractive. I was nervous about this as well but throughout the years I have found that I was treated for the most part just like everyone else.<br><br>Two times stick out that made me fell uncomfortable. One was when my captain came up to the bridge late at night when I was on watch and made the comment that I had beautiful blue eyes, to which I said thank you, I get them from my dad. I am not sure what his intentions where but mentioning my dad sure did make him feel uncomfortable. The second was when another captain made a comment about how 24 was the perfect age for a girlfriend. I am not sure if he knew I was 24 at the time but the moment passed and all was well. <br><br>What crew members discuss when your not present you have no control over but I have found that if you carry yourself in a manner that says your not expecting to be harassed then you probably wont be. I am not implying that those who are harassed brought it upon themselves, there will always be creepy guys and bad luck. But you can make it clear what you are and what you are not comfortable talking about or listening too. I would always leave when strip clubs come up , I never went out with boys for a night of fun and in general added very little information about my personal love life. <br><br>In general you will find that most people will either leave you alone, treat you no different or you will be treated like a sister, niece or daughter depending on the persons age. I found most looked out for you and it really was like having a lot of brothers who are fun to be around but also can be really annoying at times. Really how many times can you listen to another hunting story or about the game last night. I did miss having another female to talk too, that is the hard part I found. It is a very masculine workplace and a little female companionship would be nice…<br><br>The only thing I found to be a disadvantage being female aboard a ship as a third mate was that I had very little experience using tools. Maybe more girls where taught by there dads how to make a gasket or fix a fire hose but I had no clue and the academies do very little to prepare you for this. Most is quick learning and crew members will help but I think if I was male I would of know how to maybe fix some of safety stuff better.<br><br>All this being said I really loved working aboard ships and that it was exciting to think that for the most part I was the first female a lot of these guys have ever worked with. Pretty cool!


Thanks for the replies.<br><br>argo, sounds like a decent school. This is the one I am considering: http://www.miwb.nl/index.php?db=4. I am glad companies take the work environment aboard ships seriously.<br><br><br>jillfrussell, I will get in touch with them so see what their experiences are. Thanks for the link.<br><br><br>Jemplayer, it sounds like those company have given the issue a lot of thought and if I do choose to go to sea I hope I will never need to make use of their policies. Though it is good that they have them. I prefer to settle issue always in person, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out.<br><br><br>dougpine, you look merely to see if someone is a capable and experienced crew member, which makes a lot of sense to me. In what circumstances would you persuade someone not to go to sea? And which people or what attitudes would you consider right for a life at sea? I haven’t yet decided if this is what I am going to do. At the moment I am looking if this kind of life will suite me. I have once chosen a career hastily before and it turned out that I should have gathered more information first. Is there a way to figure this out for some part before hand?<br><br><br>cak212, thanks for sharing some of your experiences. I did a search on the forum to see if this issue has come up before, but I found nothing.<br><br>I am glad you weren’t treated fundamentally different, because of your sex. Sorry to hear about those two captains though. It can be intimidating and limiting to be considered as a woman/dating material first and member of the crew second. Though it’s good to hear this had no further consequences.<br><br>I am also not too fond of certain discussions. I usually walk away too or if I can’t I’ll ask them to delay it until I am not around. Did you never go out with the crew? I meant where there no bar evenings ashore? Or were they always in a hurry to rush to the nearest place where women are not always welcome? This would not persuade me from choosing the life, but it would definitely be a downside. <br><br>I have the tools problems too. I can build and fix my own computers, but that it about as far as it goes. I would love to learn though. They do teach it at the college I am considering. Though I am not convinced all boys get taught to work with tools when they are young, but it does happen more often than with girls.<br>


I’ll paste in here what I wrote in another <a target="_blank" href="http://gcaptain.com/maritime/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=296]thread that fits this one as well:<br><strongr style="font-family: yui-tmp;]<blockquote>…imagine locking
yourself in a 500 square foot steel box with five or eight other guys,
for at least 28 days, probably more, and you’ll start to get a feel for
it. It can be just fine, or it can be pure hell. Mostly though, it is
what you make it. This career is very hard on families and marriages.
You will be away from friends and family for months on end, for the
duration of your career. Every mariner’s relationships suffer. Every
mariner I know has been divorced, is someday going to be divorced,
re-married or decided not to get married at all. I’m on my second
marriage and thank god I found a woman who is at peace with my career.
But we’re older and the kids are grown. That makes a difference. Every
mariner I know has missed weddings and funerals and little league games
and graduations and holidays and the births of their children. You’ll
need to consider this as being a very real part of the package. </blockquote>
there is nothing so beautiful as sunsets and sunrises on the open sea,
or the 360 degree panorama of stars on a moonless night, or the
dolphins surfing your bow wake. There is nothing like having a 50 foot
humpback whale breach twenty feet off your beam. There is nothing like
the sleep I sleep on a moving boat. Uh, when I get it, that is. There
is nothing like the challenge and satisfaction of safely navigating
your way through heavy traffic in restricted visibility. There is
nothing so fun as operating a Z-drive tug in the indirect mode behind
an oil tanker. There is no thrill like the thrill of <span tag=“blockquote” class="-blockquote ]being at the controls while maneuvering and tying a 200 foot boat to an
oil rig in 8 to 10 foot seas with an opposing current, or better yet,
holding it in just the right spot (what they call “crewboating it”) for
hours on end without the aid of tie up lines, pumping water and fuel
and barite while backloading from the rig. </span>
</blockquote><span tag=“blockquote” class="-blockquote ]</span><span tag=“blockquote” class="-blockquote ]</span>
<blockquote>For many of us, the
personal satisfaction gained by doing this kind of work justifies the
cost. I’ve been at it for nearly thirty years, and I still get excited
by it. If this kind of stuff makes you excited, then you might just be
looking at the right path for yourself.<br><br><br></blockquote>


Dougpine - I’ll second that motion!<br><br>The only thing I’d add, would be “they said there would be days like this!”, and “I should have listened to Mom and gone to Med School”.<br><br>Thankfully those days are far and few…


Yeah, I saw you posted that before.<br><br>I have no family or marriage aspirations, never really had. I guess I am a bit of an exception compared to a lot of people in that respect. My friends have swarmed out all over the world, so I already get to see them very little, unless I travel which I would be doing a lot more if I could afford it.<br><br>As for locking myself in a gigantic tuna can (pardon the somewhat free translation of your words) with a bunch of people. I suppose it depends on the group dynamics. In my experience, some groups function and some do not and when a people function together it’s awesome and when they don’t it can really suck.<br><br>Your description sound very promising. I am gonna be visiting some colleges in the next few months to see if I can get an even clearer picture of the life. It will of course always be a bit of a gamble. You can never know what something is like exactly until you try it. I just curious if you might know certain character traits that are absolutely incompatible with a life at sea.<br><br><br>El Captain, that won’t do for me, because my mom would prefer to see me become an archaeologist.<br>Perhaps I’ll be saying the same in twenty years though.


Aspiring,<br><br>Hopefully not! I still love what I do, very much, just some days are more trying than others!<br><br>Have you given any thought to inquiring at one of the academies (Maine, Mass., SUNY, Kings Point) about taking a look?<br><br>Also, are you degreed in anything at the moment? This could make a huge difference, even if it’s in Winter Recreation. The reason I mention this is, that you mentioned that you were interested in Hydrography, and a job on the water. Let me know, and I’ll go from there.<br><br>Have a great evening…


<p style="margin-bottom: 0in;]I am going to visit one college at the
end of next month and I may visit some others in a few months. I am
Dutch so I will most likely study at a Dutch college. I still got a
few years on my scholarship left. Unless Dutch schools have a
horrible reputation in the maritime industry. Then I will try to
study abroad. <br><br>Here there is only one college that teaches
Hydrography. There are in total four schools that have a course for
Maritime officer and one of them also has the Hydrography course. The
one I am now considering is on an island in the North Sea. They have
a building where they house students, though if you can find a place
to rent on the island that is fine too. Unlike other colleges you
will not be leaving for the weekends. You need a ferry to get to the
island, so you only get to leave the island every three weeks. The
other schools are close by large ports and you are expected to arrange a place to stay for yourself. I must add that a college with
student housing is very rare in my country. It’s a whole package deal
with uniforms and three meals a day and a very strict schedule.<br><br>As
for what I am going to do exactly I have haven’t decided yet. I
already know I love the water and I was practically born on it and
now that I am living so far away from it I find that I miss it. As a
kid I used to love to surf and sail and maneuver my parents’ boat
around. I used to be at the wheel for hours and maneuvering that
thing was a bit tricky, because it was old and didn’t have any bow
propellers like the more modern boats have. This unfortunately was
not at sea. I have sailed on a larger lake once that required some
navigating. It was still not the sea, but that was pretty
awesome and it was the first time I got to do some
navigation, though it was fairly easy and we had floating markers in
the water you could use. So it was basically sail to this marker and
then alter your course by so many degrees, but I loved it.

<p style="margin-bottom: 0in;]<br>I also love to be under way. I simply
love to travel and with the current state of the economy I get to do
that less and less. So therefore I am also looking for that
opportunity in my next career.

<p style="margin-bottom: 0in;]<br>I currently have got no degree.
Entirely my fault. I picked the wrong college and about halfway
through I realized that getting a job after graduating would be
nearly impossible. I should have researched it better, which is way I
am careful with this decision. So when the company I interned at
offered me a job I decided to stay and I am still working there, but
I find that I am not quite satisfied and I am looking for something
else, something more challenging.

<p style="margin-bottom: 0in;]<br>Right now I have looked at some water
courses and the most common one seems to be the course for maritime
officer, but in researching one of the schools, I stumbled across the
course for Hydrography which is incredibly interesting too. They
don’t mind me not having a degree and are asking me to take a test.
Most of the time that test will be math, but it depends on the school. They can
make their own rules about what to do with students who haven’t got
the required degree. I have already started brushing up my math
skills en it is going well. So I am not too worried. A few months of
studying should do the trick. Another school would also want me to
take tests in Dutch, English and Physics. English tests I can
practically do with my eyes closed and Physics shouldn’t be that hard
either once I polished up my skills in that a bit.


Aspiring,<br><br>I teach at a school in the USA called Pacific Maritime Institute. That’s not so helpful in and of itself, but what may be helpful to you is the fact that we have a Dutch woman on our staff who has sailed as a licensed mariner for many years. If you would like, I will ask her if she would be willing to have you contact her. Please contact me at dpine at mates dot org and I will introduce the two of you.<br>


<p style="margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 10.0px Helvetica]<span style="font-family: Arial;]Aspiring Mariner,</span><p style="margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 10.0px Helvetica]<span style="font-family: Arial;]<br></span><p style="margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 10.0px Helvetica]<span style="font-family: Arial;]I think your future plans, attending a college and becoming a maritime officer, are a step in the right direction. And ones that I wouldn’t mind seeing my own daughters make when the time comes. Some of the questions you sought answers to in your first post have been answered well by others. </span><p style="margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 10.0px Helvetica]<span style="font-family: Arial;]<br></span><p style="margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 10.0px Helvetica]<span style="font-family: Arial;]I would only add that, as in many others fields, women in the maritime industry today are being treated with respect and are welcomed. The maritime industry’s four segments: military, commercial fishing, deep sea and everything other than deep sea have seen several decades of women successfully moving up through the ranks. Women aboard ships having problems or difficulties in being accepted, or treated badly have not been the norm. I write this with personal experience in three of the four maritime segments, and working aboard vessels with women since the mid-70’s. I have the utmost respect for anyone applying themselves to be a professional, regardless of their sex, and I am not alone in this regard.</span><p style="margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 10.0px Helvetica]<span style="font-family: Arial;]<br></span><p style="margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 10.0px Helvetica]<span style="font-family: Arial;]Follow your aspirations, study hard, and don’t worry about being a female in a man’s world (that world has changed for all of us, and not just because of women sailing aboard ships). </span><p style="margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 10.0px Helvetica]<span style="font-family: Arial;]<br></span><p style="margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 10.0px Helvetica]<span style="font-family: Arial;]After your graduation, when the time comes for you to board a ship and put your knowledge and training to use, aim for the piece of advice given you by dougpine…be the type of sailor that will allow the captain and crew to sleep soundly, without a second thought, knowing you are the officer of the watch. Good luck!</span><p style="margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 10.0px Helvetica]<span style="font-family: Arial;]<br></span>


Hi, you have every right to be curious and cautious for this is truthfully still a male dominated industry. I’ve been working offshore since the summer of '92 when I started working as an O.S. on oilfield supply boats scrubbing toilets,scraping,painting,heaving anchors, etc. I literally came up through the hawsepipe. Five years into my career I’d yet to work with a woman offshore, then, one fateful day that all changed. I was then a captain on a 135ft crewboat awating crewchange when I joked with my offgoing 2nd captain, “What if it’s a woman?” It was. She was standing on the dock just like a man. She had sea bags just like a man. She came on board and pulled her watch, just like any man I’d ever worked with before. I was thoroughly impressed. Back then, before the advent of “DP” on crewboats you had to earn your money by “bowing up” in 6-8ft seas for hours loading and offloading cargo. She pulled it off like a pro, having come from another company where she’d cut her teeth doing this same work. A shrimp boat, frieghter, tanker, survery boat/ship captain all have one thing in common; they go from point A to B. Straight line. One thing that seperates the one from the other is the fact that oilfield vessels have to maneuver in close to fixed structures, often for hours on end, sometimes on the upcurrent/upwind side in order to offload thier cargo. It’s one hot kitchen, and I’ve seen some of the best. One of them was a woman.


Hello Ladies,<br><br>I’m pretty knew to the workboat thing but I am doin really good! I live in S.C. I am 27 and I have no kids! I work 28/14 but right now I am doin extra. I am the Relief Master on a technicalogically advanced boat. I have a good crew and I am nice to them. I am goin through a divorce right now(long story). I really enjoy working on boats! It would be really cool if I could meet someone that has things in common with me and work on the boat. I am reall easy to get along with and really enjoy life and work! I plan on moving to the big lisence (500T) and beyond! There are couple teams that pull the open road together. No difference here but were on the water. It could be really neat to like/love and work with someone. I would probably want to sell my car and house and stay on the boat all of the time. We could save alot of money and retire rich! I was kinda talkin to my friend and my deckhand heard me and said that I should do this. Anyway, if anything maybe we can be friends! :)<br>Minisupplyman


technicalogically? Admit it, you’re really George W. Bush.


I doubt that.George has a Harvard Degree.


If a deckhand that works for Rigdon told you that you should do it, then by all means you should certainly listen to him.<br><br>Good luck with the big lisence (500T) and beyond, it can be reall phun two.