Against The Tide

Débora Pessanha, Brazil

November 5, 2021

I am currently a Bosun and have worked on board for the past 16 years. I work on a drilling rig where deck supervision, care of the ship’s safety equipment, maintenance and cleaning of deck and equipment etc.

I love my job and I have a huge pleasure in working at sea because my work is very diversified where I take care of the maintenance of maritime safety guard equipment, I take care of the ship’s deck, the berthing and unberthing of the ship, socializing with people from other countries and the main thing is this close to the sea that is my life!

One major challenge I face as a woman working on board is the fact that men think that a woman only gets where I’ve arrived because I’m dating or going out with a boss to climb the career ladder and not because of her experience or knowledge, and that really bothers a woman who just wants to work and win in her profession.

I have personally faced many challenges as a woman on board, but one of the most difficult times is when I had to work with a boss who was sexually and morally harrasing me. It was a very difficult time in my life because I was ashamed of everything that was happening to me but my family was on my side giving me a lot of support and after 1 year and 8 months of a lot knocking on company doors looking for work I got a job in a drilling rig company where I stayed for a while until I received the invitation to return to the company where I currently work as a bosun only me in the company in this role.

One thing I’d advocate for female seafarers is to have more women on board! It is very difficult working with only men on board, it would be nice to have more equality on ships and also so that more women can have opportunities to work on board.

My advice to other female seafarers is force is not easy, but it is not impossible… Always carry on!!!

Débora Pessanha, Brazil – Bosun

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