Summary: Girls on Deck leading the way towards gender equality within the Superyacht industry
Leading superyacht crew coach, Alison Rentoul, announced recently that she has teamed up with Bosun Sophie Jordan to create Girls on Deck, which is an initiative designed to encourage gender equality within the luxury yachting industry and helps women to take on what were once seen as traditionally male roles – both on deck and in engineering.
Girls on Deck is particularly active on social media, especially Facebook, where the Girls on Deck group has attracted more than 600 members in just four weeks, gaining praise from the GEM Project – which is an international research programme focusing on gender issues arising from multi-cultural crews and isolation. Girls on Deck also encompasses Goal 5 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Global Goals, which is to, ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’.
Group members include women and men who work in yachting from all over the globe, sharing personal stories of career progression to inspire others while trading information on job postings and training programs. And, the group is gaining momentum as new members join every day.
The idea for Girls on Deck came from a discussion between Bosun Sophie Jordan and Alison Rentoul, founder of The Crew Coach, who encouraged Sophie to take up a deck positon when Sophie started out in yachting four years ago.
“I have long been passionate about promoting females in traditionally male dominated roles in the industry, stemming from my own experience of trying to get a job as a deckhand when I arrived in yachting in 1998,” said Alison Rentoul. “Even though I had 10 years of sailing experience, having grown up spending every available weekend and school holiday aboard our family sailing yacht, I was laughed out of all the crew agencies when I first arrived with the intention of becoming a deckhand.”
During her work as The Crew Coach, Alison has encouraged women to take a stand and pursue their dreams of becoming deck officers, Engineers and Captains, so when Sophie Jordan came to her in 2012 to discuss her career, Alison immediately saw her potential to go far in the exterior side of the industry.
“The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind and a lot of people told me it would be a hard road. I remember seeing all male deckhands whilst dock walking, but Alison saw something in me and encouraged me to go for it!” said Sophie Jordan, who is now a Bosun. “Within a week I landed my first job as sole deckhand on a 33m, with a very patient, encouraging Captain and I loved every moment of it. l am currently a Bosun on a 47m and am working towards my OOW.”
Alison said that men are also encouraged to join the group, to share information, advice and job postings, as well as crew agents and anyone who is happy to help promote and support women working in deck and engineering yachting roles is welcome to join.
Dr Kate Pike, Senior Research Fellow at Southampton Solent University, who is currently managing the Gender, Empowerment and Multicultural Crews (GEM) project, has voiced her support for the Girls on Deck Facebook group.
“Women are still in the minority in many sectors of the Merchant Navy and as seafarers they will spend the majority of their working lives away from home. This new channel of communication and others like it are a great way for people to support each other and share experiences, best practice, training and career opportunities,” said Kate Pike.
“One of the findings from our research highlights the isolation that can be experienced by seafarers, particularly women, and it demonstrates the need for good support networks and communication channels to be in place where people can connect to each other.”
The GEM Project is an international research programme focusing on gender issues arising from multi-cultural crews and isolation. Full research findings from the GEM project will be revealed and discussed at The GEM Project Conference on 16 June 2016 at the ITF Seafarers’ Trust in London.
Another reason behind creating Girls on Deck is Alison and Sophie’s desire to contribute towards achieving Goal 5 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Global Goals, which is to, ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’. The goal is one of 17, adopted by countries in 2015, to ensure prosperity for all with specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.
“For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part – including people working in the luxury yachting sector. We like to think that Girls on Deck is one way in which we’re doing this and playing our part in reaching the Global Goal on gender equality,” said Alison Rentoul.
To join the Girls on Deck Facebook group visit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/girlsondeck
For more information on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development: http://www.globalgoals.org