It's a man's world? Sheafarers in the shipping industry

Women in seafaring talk about their life and work on board a ship - in a masculine world. Click on their names to read their stories.

SHEafarers Franka

Right on time for the International Women’s Day…still they are a minority but here they have a platform, here they have a voice, these voices are out of the Ports worldwide… Women with different backgrounds, biographies, cultures, up-bringing, approaches, thoughts, experiences, but they are all united in one profession: SEAFARING

My interview with

Franka Dam
25 years

old who was doing her first cadetship (2021-22) on a container vessel when I met her at the watch of her ship. She is originally from the Netherlands and studying at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences.

Why did you decide to become seafarer?
I didn’t know any seafarers before starting my studies. When I came across this profession, what attracted me the most was being at sea, traveling and working with an international crew. I thought a long time about it, since it is a male dominated industry. I had doubts about whether I was able to fit in. I do still have these doubts, but I don’t want to let it stop me from pursuing my goal.

Why do you love your job?
During my first cadetship I loved being at sea and meeting people from other countries and cultures. I also loved being in different ports and seeing some other places when there were opportunities to go ashore or seeing dolphins and whales.

What is/ was your most dangerous incident on board?
I did not experience incidents myself.

What do you miss the most on board during a contract?
I did not really miss anything during my cadetship.

Do your see yourself being a feminist?
Yes definitely. On board I sometimes challenged some of the guys if I found something offensive. They did not seem to mind that I was sometimes challenging them. At first, I was a bit worried they would find it annoying, but I felt I needed to say it for myself and other women.

lehavre franka 1

Would you support your daughter becoming a seafarer?
I would leave the choice up to her. If she would want to become a seafarer, I would definitely support her, since I know how important it is to have female role models.

What is the most challenging in a crew for an only female seafarer?
For me the most challenging part is that if you’re the only woman on board among men who are not used to female colleagues, you’re not being taken seriously. Some people did not want to give me certain jobs because I was a woman. This was annoying at first but after a while I had to accept I could not change their views.

How do you feel of the project of having only-female crews?
I feel supportive of this initiative. I don’t think it’s a solution and it should not be necessary, but I think it can raise some awareness for female seafarers and gender equality.

What are the advantages?
The advantage of having an only-female crew is that women may feel more comfortable and feel taken seriously.

Do you think your experiences aboard can be generalized?
I think everyone’s experience is different but after speaking to some of my female classmates, I noticed that ours were similar in some ways.

NB: I myself am interested in reading your thesis and if we can support you in one way or the other, then let us know! Female solidarity should not just exist on the 8th of March but all year long!

lehavre franka 2

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