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  • Women at sea!

    What are your opinions on women being a deck officer? I'm a girl and would quite like to do this as it seems very interesting and is a good opportunity to travel! How many girls on each course and ships? Any help is very much appreciated! Thanks.

  • #2
    Yay! More girls at sea I had myself and one other girl on my course, and 10 boys. Other courses had a few more, we are still a minority, but people are quite used to having girls at sea now My training company tried to put me on ships with another female cadet, but get used to the idea that you may be the only girl on board a cargo vessel. On cruise ships you'll have plenty of girls around but still might be the only girl in the deck dept.

    There is a certain amount of sexism from some corners, I've been told in the past that there was little point in training me as I was only going to jack it in within a few years to go ashore and have babies, and some people seemed to think I was a delicate flower who needed a big man to help me pull on a rope (i.e. take over pulling the rope for me). But, with a positive attitude and determination and showing that I'm perfectly capable of deciding when I need help with something heavy and asking for it rather than expecting it as a matter of course, and allowing for a certain amount of "banter" I've never really had a problem with it. I now work on a ship where I'm the only girl and get on brilliantly with everyone, they're like the bunch of annoying brothers and uncles I never had!

    Size4riggerboots

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    • #3
      I've never been on a ship so have no specific experience but I have worked with many women who were doing blokey jobs. Size4riggerboots has bang on the right approach to being a woman in a male dominated environment, be prepared for some banter and just roll with it, if it gets seriously offensive then of course tell them to stfu.

      No reason why a woman can't do a job. It's the best person for the job not the best man or woman in my eyes.

      my 2 pence atleast, good luck
      It was like that when I got here.


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      • #4
        Can't say what it's like in the MN (note the word 'aspiring' under my avatar) but I worked wth some bloody fantastic female officers in the RN who had no apparent difficulty operating within a traditionally male-dominated environment. Yes they got some banter directed at them but so did everyone else and for all sorts of reasons. In another previous job I was one of only 4 males in a department of 50 and had no trouble settling in whatsoever. Most reasonably enlightened people won't care the slightest bit how many X chromosomes you've got, what matters is whether or not someone can do the job. I don't doubt that at some point you'll come across someone who is an exception to the above but this just means you can look forward to the satisfaction of proving them wrong :-)

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        • #5
          Have always said that the deck department are just a bunch of girls anyway!

          [serious face] There are more and more women coming to sea all the time and while it used to be considered unusual for a woman to be at sea, with many of the guys never having sailed with a woman before most people you ask will have sailed with a woman officer at least once during their careers and mostly with positive experiences.

          I have sailed with several female deck officers, 2 female engineers and one female AB (deck rating), with one exception they were all very good at their jobs which is about the same ratio of good to bad that I have seen with seafarers in general.

          There are still a few dinosaurs left who will tell you that there is no place at sea for women, but they are getting fewer and fewer, and the more good female officers who come to sea the more people will realise that they are generally just as capable as men.

          Good luck and let us know how you get on.

          [/serious face]
          Go out, do stuff

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          • #6
            I think S4 sums up the situation pretty well, a lot of your survivability at sea depends on a good, determined attitude with a bit of humour thrown in as well, for the males as well but definitely as a woman.


            I was often the only female onboard my offshore vessels initially with anywhere between 16-80 people onboard. At college there was two of us in the class. I think the average is that for every 100 men there is 1 woman at sea (though this is a cargo ship statistic rather than for the Cruise Ship Industry). So unless you are working on cruise ships there is a fairly high chance you?ll be the only female onboard, though I have noticed that often companies try to pair up ?female cadets? and whether the boys consider it fair or not they do tend to get sent to the better companies. Though I would recommend all cadets to research their prospective training providers as much as possible in the first place to see if they?re really the people you want to be sailing with!


            I copied a bit of a post I?ve responded to before regarding women at sea below. I definitely struggle with a few cultural attitudes even as an Officer and as such do not enjoy working with some nationalities as much as others, but... you get used to it and you find ways to get round obstacles. It really is a fantastic career though if it?s for you and being female won?t hold you back from anything you?ll encounter- on a normal day I can be doing everything from operating a 500t winch to manouvering off/on a berth to firefighting or just catching up on the paperwork. With a good crew it?s honestly brilliant, I wouldn?t want to be doing anything else, though it can be a challenge at times too...


            "I find it can be hard the first few days particularly around certain nationalities and how they gauge you (particularly as a trainee when you have to convince some crewmembers that you are in for the duration and won't be working in an office and therefore they have to let you work on deck!) but once everyone gets used to you being around it doesn't really matter at all as long as you just get on with it, though initially it does feel like a bit of a mental battle with certain crewmembers particularly those not used to having women work at all, never mind onboard a ship, throw off the daft questions and rise above it, you'll come out stronger. Occasionally you get some idiot saying a stupid thing or some umm... cultural misunderstandings but generally the better you know people and the longer you're onboard the more this gets ironed out. It can be tough at times and I've had a few 'what am I doing here' moments' both qualified and as a trainee when some idiot has got to me just a little bit too much but laughing most things off rather than letting things get to you seems to work for me 99% of the time.


            If you love the job and the idea of being at sea do it, it's fantastic, I wish there were more women at sea!"


            Anyways find out all you can, there?s a lot of good experience and different viewpoints from folk here on the forum as well as on the net. Good luck whatever you decide though...

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            • #7
              I'm a girl and in the final stages of joining as a deck cadet. I have a filthier mind than most guys I've worked with - gotta love a bit of banter.
              'Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans'

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              • #8
                More and more woman are coming to work at sea and I think it is a good thing in general!

                I have worked with 3 woman Cadets and 2 woman Officers and I would reiterate what S4 and Laura have said , if you have the right attitude and determination you will do just fine.

                I did however work with a 'girl' cadet because thats what she was , thought she would get a free ride because she was female and when she got the same treatment as the guys wasn't happy about it.

                I'm not saying thats every female at sea BUT when I see somebody , not necessarily a woman , wanting special treatment it really pisses me off!

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                • #9
                  Would also say , there are a lot of Old Fashioned 'backward minded' men at sea.

                  I sailed with a Captain who refused to have woman onboard as it was 'Bad Luck' ...

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by bobofinga View Post
                    Would also say , there are a lot of Old Fashioned 'backward minded' men at sea.

                    I sailed with a Captain who refused to have woman onboard as it was 'Bad Luck' ...
                    How on earth did he get away with that?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by YoungMariner View Post
                      How on earth did he get away with that?
                      Because the company itself was very Backward Minded...

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