Against The Tide

Sandisiwe Binda, South Africa

August 9, 2021

My job responsibilities include maintenance of Charts and Publications together with all the available corrections, testing GMDSS equipment and ensuring that all the navigational equipment is working as well as maintaining the stationary and helping out Safety Officers with their work.​​

What I love most about my job is engaging with people from different places who have different cultures. In between work, I learn about marine life as I work with observers. I also love that refreshing moment of watching the waves. That sound is therapeutic for me.

Some challenges I have faced in the industry are being judged based on gender when it comes to work and being told what I can do and what I can’t do basically. Secondly is having companies preferring males over females, this is observed by the intake of males in so many companies meanwhile most female seafarers are still home applying at the very same company. As a female seafarer, certain things are beyond our control like what I have just mentioned above. We apply in companies and we are hardly considered. I graduated with many males and we used to apply with them and they would get calls from all these companies and we would get no response if not that they currently don’t have any vacancies. Lastly it’s just being underestimated at work but I always prove to anyone that doubts me work wise due to my gender. I make sure I leave a mark where I have been. I push myself to learn and know things. It is only by physical strength that male workers can beat me only that, sometimes not all of them.

The change I would love to see is for us women to be given a chance, given a chance without being doubted or judged based on our gender. I once did an interview with a certain company and I was told that they don’t really like taking females because they fall pregnant, I mean that is the nature of women. Companies should accommodate EVERYONE and stop with this gender inequality.

My advice to female seafarers is to be bold and be strong. It is not easy being at sea. As a woman starting in this career you need to know that you will be judged, you will be underestimated. Don’t let anyone bring you down or make you feel you are not worthy to be at sea. Make sure you push yourself to learn things and be aware of what is happening around you.

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