Against The Tide

Alexandra Ciucanu,Romania

November 2, 2020

 have to confess that the road to a successful career on board ships was not paved with the most polished stones, I had both ups and downs  in the beginning.

My worst experience on board was during my cadetship, when I was working among men exclusively. It was not easy to deal with the unconscious bias, lack of understanding and hormones. Some, moped the floor with my believes, my knowledges and principles of living. But when they saw I am not going to give up on working on board ships, they made me feel like I am some kind of exception and working with females is a very bad experience not only for man but even for woman. Leaving the ship with no Romanian role model of female that ever made it, I was always telling to myself that for other girls it was much easier to achieve a higher rank because of their nationality and that most probably they have a male on board to hold their back. (as I`ve been told). On the other hand, some of my male colleagues gave me the strength to move over and told me “never give up, as it will be a total waste of talent”. In the end I realized is not about gender in the maritime industry, is all about education. 

Now I realized how wrong I was. You can come from wherever you want around the globe and still make it, you just have to open you mind in order to let the opportunity inside. After I became officer, I started to approach the gender equality differently and make everyone feel welcome to work with me no matter the gender, the age, the rank, the nationality, the sexual orientation. I even started helping others to grow, to make the impossible possible inside their heart.   And the results and successful stories didn’t cease to show up.

As of now, IMO is encouraging women to join the industry but the problem is the lack of training among the crew. Not all the people working on board know how to handle having a woman around for 4-6 months and not all the girls know what is right and what is wrong while being for the first time there. I want to give them a heads up that the BST training should include also a module of gender equality.  At least to brief than on how not to be sexist and how to keep a comradely working environment.

Alexandra is currently a 3rd officer.

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