So are things different for women in the diving world? Are we more buoyant? Are we calmer? Are we a risk? Basically, are things different for us? There are lots of good and bad things about being a diver chick.
Lets start at the beginning.
When packing, sad as it may be, I will pack extra waterproof mascara. Ok ok, I admit it, its not needed, but waterproof mascara is a must. Hey, you never know who your buddy might be, and if he is going to need to breathe "buddy-style", you gotta look good, while he is sharing your air haven’t you?
When arriving at the airport with a bag full of dive kit, (and fellow staff writer Caroline Hawkins has admitted it too), we will often smile sweetly whilst twirling our hair and get away with a few more Kilos, sorry to admit it, but a bit of girly manipulation never goes amiss in at the Excess Baggage Counter.
One of the few bad sides of being a female diver is, when entering a dive situation for the first time, you are still nearly always expected to be a beginner. I arrived in Bora Bora with my then boyfriend who had only just passed his Open Water and I was Advanced; we were immediately briefed and he was told to look after me and keep an eye on me, they were expecting him to be the more advanced. When I informed them of our different qualifications, they laughed and made a joke about which one of us was wearing the trousers. It did make me laugh, and it doesn’t happen often, but it was so boringly predictable. Unfortunately, we tend to have to work that little bit harder to prove ourselves, which shouldn’t happen anymore should it?
I have experienced a few male diving instructors that have completely stripped me of my confidence in a matter of minutes. Is that my fault? I hear you say. Surely the job of the instructor is to support, understand and encourage, but on one particular occasion, I had to dive a few days later in a different location with a different instructor, just to convince myself that I could still dive without having my hand held. Sad, but true. Not a nice man.
As far as working in the industry is concerned, I know from what other female instructors have told me and from my own experience in training, that it is regarded as a good thing to be a woman in the industry. We are regarded as "safe", controlled, and calm. But in certain cultures it is hard for men to take instructions from a woman, as Caroline Hawkins relayed to me about her experience with Japanese men she has trained, they weren’t having any of it! Caroline also told me about being accepted for an instructor job, and one of the reasons she believed she was accepted was to appeal to male customers. Hmm, no comment.
What about buddies? Is it better to have a male or female buddy? Personally I think it is nice to have a buddy who is a friend. Male or female does not come into it. I have found that both have problems, but it has nothing to do with the sex, it’s the individual.
As for Apr??s-dive activities, I have found that we pretty much fit in, it’s a healthy and much needed thing to discuss the dives of the day and drink a few glasses together, somehow the sex issue becomes irrelevant and to be honest, if one is on the lookout for a "Buddy" there is nothing nicer than meeting on an equal, sporting ground.
We like to idealise about the 21st century and how equal we all are, but what do we really expect? I find it all confusing, and I am sure you do too. We still want men to open doors for us and buy us flowers, yet we then want to be treated on an equal level in working situations. Can us girls have the best of both worlds? I think I speak for many diver chicks out there when I say yes. Why? Lets just leave it down to the fact that even though people get road rage with female drivers, we get cheaper car insurance.
What does that say?
Besides, we provide men with the image of a strong, sexy female figure, which, admit it, they love, and we look better in our wetsuits.