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Navigating Sexism: A Beginner's Guide to Sexism in Yachting

Updated: May 4

Hello Everyone,

This week I've been thinking a lot about the isms, I can only write about the isms I am up against, I know many affect us in day-to-day life. I decided to write this post, as recently quite a few ladies have reached out to Shaped by the Sea asking for advice or support on how to combat gender inequality in some parts of the industry. I write from my own experiences in the hope that someone reading can take help from it.

Some people reading this post will think this girl is just complaining. That is not the case, this post is to help other young women moving into any male-dominated industry, not just yachting.

Although I will refer to the yachting industry as an example as it is where my life experiences are.

I've had the privilege so far in my career to work with some really supportive and encouraging male crew who have not treated me differently because of my gender. However, this isn't the case across the industry.

Deck Crew Sailng


The Maritime industry is one of the oldest in the world, Yes, it has predominantly been a male-dominated industry. The tide is changing within the industry but not everyone is on board with the tables. There have been times in my career when I've encountered individuals who cannot comprehend that I work on deck.

A 5ft 2, small-built Female.

What makes these individuals think that I am not capable; my Gender, height and size. What they do not see on the outside is what makes it possible; my passion, commitment, knowledge, determination and experience.

"Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others." Amelia Earhart

Tools to Navigate Sexism

1. Never stop Learning

When we think we know everything we are the most vulnerable! Continuing to educate ourselves in our field of work arms us with knowledge, making us experts. It's much easier to stand your ground and prove you belong when you work hard to obtain the position. Every day is a school day.

2. Do not be afraid to speak out

When presented with a situation, the only way to prevent it from happening again or happening to others is to talk about it. Onboard those channels can look like, speaking to the first officer or captain. If they are part of the problem, then they speak to the management company depending on the severity of the situation.

Reach out to organisations such as Yacht crew help to get some advice or support.

Sexism is presented in many forms, including verbal abuse, teasing, and continuous demoralising statements in the workplace related to gender.

Many people will read this blog post and think "If you can't handle the banter, don't work on deck." this is a part of the problem, there is a very fine line between banter and demoralising comments. Who defines the line of "What is too far?" the crew member who is hurt by the situation? or the crew member giving the banter?

3. Do not settle

If you aren't being treated as an equal department member due to your gender.

Find another Yacht! According to the SuperYacht Times ‘The State of Yachting 2022’ report, as of the end of 2021, there were 5,396 yachts over 30m / 98ft in operation. This number will have grown to close to 6,000 if not more in the last 2 years.

Once you have a few years of experience, you can afford to be picky with jobs, wait for the right job, and not be afraid to ask questions in job interviews, to get the underlying idea of how a yacht is run.

4. Join Yachting Groups

All of these groups provide support for females in the industry, offer mentorship and guidance on how to cope with the difficult moments and treasure the good ones.

Surrounding yourself with a community of supportive people makes life easier every day and are there for you when the bad times appear.

Have you come across sexism onboard?

  • Witnessed onboard between other crew members

  • Another Crew member treated me un-equally due to my gender

  • Has occurred when dealing with contractors

  • I have not been treated un-equally onboard

You can vote for more than one answer.

When you hear the following;

You'll never make it in the industry your not strong enough.
You're not tough enough for this Job.
You got this job because the first officer thinks your hot.

(These are all statments that are heard time and time again to not just to deck crew but chefs, engineers, Stewards/stewardesses. )

“Strong men, strong men, men who are truly role models, don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful." Michelle Obama.

If you've had an experience onboard you'd like to share, reach out to at or @shapedbythesea on instagram.

This is a tough topic to write about, I want emphasis that sexism happens in every industry, and can happen to anyone, not just women. Thank you for reading today's blog, I love writing these posts and will continue to write about the taboo topics of the yachting industry, how they effect crew and what we can do in our daily lives to change the narrative.

As always keep smiling, laughing and loving the sea xo


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