During the Captains’ Session at this year’s American Superyacht Forum, the subject of women in yachting was raised. Brian Jackson-Pownall of Victoria Investments commented that, “We should be employing more women.” His reasons being that; “They are much more dedicated to the safety and condition of the vessel, they have a much better intuition with the crew and they think much more about the owner individually and his requirements and personality.” He concluded his point by adding; “We do not make an effort to get them into this industry.”

Finding the right balance. Credit: Dick Holthuis

In a recent conversation with The Crew Report, Mike French of International Crew Training, also expressed that female crew can have a different attitude on aboard. “Two of my female students have recently become captains and there is definitely a different system on board,” he says. “Primarily there are no gender-ascribed roles. When they look for a deckhand, they are not looking for a preconceived idea of whether it should be a girl or a guy, because they just don’t think like that now.”

It is no secret that the superyacht industry is a heavily male-dominated industry, but it seems the reputation of women that are already established crew has been cause for a request for more women to be integrated into the senior positions. In the same session at the American Superyacht Forum, Captain Glen Allen of M/Y Harle acknowledged the desire for more female crew, but pointed to one problem; “I don’t see the candidates,” he said. “Where do you find them?”

“Out of the 100 first mate jobs that are out there for my qualifications, maybe only ten will accept a female." - Siobhan Wood

Speaking to Amy Beavers of MPT Training, there appears to be further desire to accept women in yachting and, especially, to enter the department they wish be in. “I would personally like to encourage more women to get into the maritime industry and specifically into working on yachts in all departments,” she says. “People should do, and are most successful when they do what they are best at and most passionate about. For some people that relates best to interior service regardless of gender and for others that relates more to engineering or deck officer service.”

From these comments it seems that the industry is eager to encourage more females on board, but speaking to one female first mate, Siobhan Wood on SY Silencio, there appears to be a different story. “Out of the 100 first mate jobs that are out there for my qualifications, maybe only 10 will accept a female,” she explains. “Most will be because of cabin considerations or that it wouldn’t fit the current crew dynamic, but it is still a male-dominated industry and you get a lot of captains that won’t employ you because you’re female.”

The industry has never been more enthusiastic in encouraging women to progress in any department on board. However, stereotypes still exist within the industry and these are creating barriers for some female crew. In order to encourage a more balanced workforce, which many suggest would be of great benefit to the industry, existing employees must adapt their mindset in order to get rid of these stereotypes altogether.

For access to the transcripts from The American Superyacht Forum 2013, please click here.

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