Every now and then we talk a little bit about feminism around here. This week I stumbled across some gems on the internet so, ready for a little more feminist talk? First of all, Happy 50th Birthday to the Equal Pay Act! I stumbled across this TEDTalk that blew my mind because - Yes! This!
I often wonder why after women have had equal rights - and all the fighting women did for equal rights - women didn't rise to the top quicker.
Why is it that in 8 years of sailing I've had one female captain (out of about 20)? Why have I had only one female pilot (out of more pilots than I could possibly count)? Why is it when I work in the office there are no women heading up operations (there are many women in the office but very few in vessel specific positions)? Why do I feel like I am either sailing with withering ovaries or quitting? Why don't I think I can make it work?
Over a year ago I attended The Women on the Water Conference. It was held at one of the State Maritime Academies and it was designed to introduce female midshipmen to female professionals in the maritime industry. It was excellent. One of my friends was leading a discussion on appropriate shipboard conduct and tips for shipboard success but, at the end of her discussion she threw something in for the ladies who were already in the industry. She said: Don't eat the young.
It really stuck with me because, she was right. We eat the young. Women have a tendency to be tough on each other. If there is one thing we can do as women in the maritime industry it's to help each other achieve success.
Women are hard on each other but news flash - Men are hard on women too. We were talking about a Chic out on a Rig. A Dude says, 'I don't mind working with her - she's okay'. Dear Lady Friend looks at me and says, 'You know what that means right? She's awesome.'.
I'm about to let the cat out of the bag. I feel like this is a secret I have guarded. My vessels nickname in the fleet is the Xyz Estrogen (xyz is my companies name...you understand...). We have all female officers: Chief Mate, Second Mate, Third Mate. We'll all be going back for our third rotation together. Nautie Friends, let me tell you, this is unheard of. All female officers for multiple rotations?! Mind Blowing.
I haven't said anything about it because it shouldn't be a big deal. The first woman graduated from Maine Maritime Academy in 1975! It should blow no one's mind that a ship could have multiple female deck officers.....but it does. It blows everyone's mind.
As I have moved up in rank I have started to feel an overwhelming degree that I must be mindful of my obligation to mentor. If I don't stop and take the time to mentor who will? If I don't remind myself not to eat the young will they all be eaten? Most importantly, if I don't recognize that I have something to teach - will I teach?
I'd also like to stop right here and reiterate that I think having a choice as a women is a powerful thing. I would never, ever presume to know what was best for someone's family or child. I am in no way advocating that rising to the top of the leadership pyramid is the best choice for everyone!
Without further ado, I'd like to introduce June's Nautie Books Selection:
Please join me in reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. I've already begun and have nodded my head and wanted to say, 'amen sister!' more than once.
When a girl tries to lead, she is often labeled bossy. Boys are seldom called bossy because a boy taking the role of a boss does not surprise or offend. As someone who was called this for much of my childhood, I know that it is not a compliment.
Oh.My.God.Yes. I have been called bossy my entire life...and have never once thought of it as a positive.
I was at a friends wedding with a gaggle of Maine Maritime and Coast Guard Academy Grads. We were all throwing out suggestions and getting wedding preparations underway. My dear lady friend said, 'I love that there are so many natural leaders here!!!'. She wasn't being facetious - she didn't want us to quit bossing her around - she was honestly impressed! At that moment I was impressed. All I could think was, I'm not sure I'd like to be surrounded by so many bossypants for too much longer! I shouldn't have been impressed - I should have embraced the bossy.
I'll be reading this book for many reasons: I don't want to eat the young...and, I want to become a better leader....and, I want to embrace the bossy.....and, I believe that there is a work / life balance that I can achieve....and, I want to promote other women in the industry....and because I'm tired of being so hard on myself!
I realize that Nautie Books is beginning to have a poor track record! I didn't debriefed April or May's book selection! What can I say - I'm struggling to find a work / life balance (*wink*)!
Ladies and Gentlemen, let's Lean In!