Against The Tide

Shraddha Vishwakarma, India

August 13, 2021

I’m a trainee navigating officer currently working on cargo ships.

My role is to learn and I currently have no responsibilities so I mimic the chief officer’s routine and I work with him to learn as much as I can about navigation and cargo operations.

When the chief officer finds me capable enough to carry out tasks independently, he lets me carry them out by myself.

What I love most about my job is doing something unconventional and new everyday. I am also usually the youngest and only woman on ships and honestly this is a major honor for me. There’s a lot of pride that comes with being a woman on these ships because as a woman, you know you’re dealing with ten times more than a regular male seafarer. The fact that I am able to do this everyday gives me a huge sense of pride in myself and I love the work I do and my position in ships.

One of my biggest challenges working in this industry is that I’m seldom taken seriously when I’m joining a ship. Most people mistake me to be someone’s wife or related to one of the men in some way but they never assume I’m actually there to work. As a trainee, I overcome this by doing top notch work and letting my work do the talking for me. I also make sure to go the extra mile and do more than is expected. I keep a 15 hour work day and work most weekends just to prove that I am dedicated to learning and performing my best at the job.

One thing I’d advocate for female seafarers is medical lockers of ships sailing with women on board to have sanitary pads as well. Ships need to be more accommodating for women who work at sea.

My advice to other female seafarers is don’t shy away from being your truest and most free self. Let others be uncomfortable and just be you.

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