Against The Tide

Zimkita Tembani, South Africa.

October 6, 2020

The most exciting moments on board is when we have to overhaul machinery, reassemble it and it runs. I love the technical aspect of it in having to work harder than anyone else because you need to prove that even though you are a woman you can do the job. A few challenges that I have faced include the language barrier when working with foreign nationals becomes a really big issue because you struggle to communicate. Sometimes they would speak in their own language during a job and that made it impossible to understand

Being the only woman in the engine room always has its challenges. Sometimes you are given light jobs because you are a female and they don’t expect you to do certain jobs. Some officers would make comments that imply that you should be at home or in the kitchen as it is a man’s job. Whenever I am onboard I always inform the engine room crew that I am part of the team, I am not just a female when I am there and deserve the same level of recognition. I get involved with every job that’s being done and if I have to lift something I am unable to, I ask for assistance. I found that being bold and voicing out your concerns helps people to change their attitude towards you. You must also learn not to take things personally

The changes I would like to see in the seafaring industry is for more women to be given the same chance and respect as men; most companies are still reluctant in employing females and that needs to change. We must not be judged based on our gender that we are unable to do a job. To the future female seafarers, I’d advise them to go out there mentally and physically prepared because it can get tough at times. Being away from family is not easy, especially when you are around men who do not understand females in general. You need to be able to handle the pressure as well because a simple mistake would be a big issue because it was caused by a “female officer”. We are constantly under a microscope and you have to be on your A-game

Zimkita is currently a 4th Engineer.

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