One of the vessels I sailed on was an all-male vessel and the crew was very old school and believed women should not work on vessels. Because of that it was extremely difficult to prove that I am more than capable of doing this job. I was assaulted and harassed and almost gave up my whole career. Another challenge I constantly face would be proving that I am capable of doing a job instead of having someone complete it for me such as using tools, and also having them expect me to be unable to lift certain items despite knowing my own strength.
I often go out of my way to prove I can do the job. The biggest challenge I face on every vessel I sail on is hiding a part of my personality, the girly part. I live with the saying “there is a time and place for everything” and when I first join a vessel I always try to be as “boyish” as possible to gain trust and respect and to not have to face certain remarks on how I look. As a woman who loves fashion and make up in a male dominated industry I find it’s challenging to hide who I really am for months at a time. After some time on the vessel I’ve come to find that as I spent more time with the crew and as they got to know me better I would gain their trust and respect and realize my appearance didn’t interfere between my work and how the crew associated with me.
A good way of advocating for gender equality is sharing and posting about the women already involved in careers at sea!
To the female seafarers coming behind me hold on to your passion, challenge yourself, and go with your gut feeling and you will not be good at everything and you might fail, but it’s all in the climb of creating your dream career.
Clara is currently a Navigation Cadet.