In May, I met Danielle Blackburn at the Maritime HR Association conference in London, a young cadet with a bright future ahead of her. I was cheered to learn that she’d found Spinnaker through our blogging about the pay gap and women in maritime, and over a glass of bubbly at the close of the conference, we discussed the industry and what it’s like for young women entering a male-dominated workplace.
I’ve caught up with Danielle to interview her for Seafarers’ Awareness Week, where she gives insight to a career at sea, and her top tips for anyone considering going into maritime…
Q: Tell us about your decision to go to sea – how did your shipping career begin?
A: Growing up in Cornwall I have always had a keen interest in the sea and navigation. I began sailing dinghies at the age of 9, from then I worked my way to sailing small yachts, taking part in local sailing races and the Sea Cadets. At 22 years old I am now in the final months of my deck cadetship, with sponsorship from Trinity House, and preparing for my OOW orals, I have found the progression to be natural and I look forward to the opportunities to progress further.
Q: What is your experience of being a woman in a male-dominated industry?
A: I have had countless amazing experiences working at sea so far, and many more to come. I have been treated equally on board ships and as a cadet I have always found the Officers and crew on board to be very welcoming and happy to show me the ropes. Women at sea has been a very positively depicted image in recent years and this has undoubtedly helped to pave the way for women to be treated equally within the industry.
Q: What would you say to young women considering a career in maritime?
A: Do it! There are more opportunities for women at sea now than ever before, and I firmly believe the shipping industry has come a long way in developing equality.
My advice to both young women and men starting a career in maritime would be to be proactive in your training and make the most of all organizations which offer mentorship and support to you. This is an excellent way to make the most of your career, network and even discover career opportunities within the broader maritime field that you may not have initially considered.
Q: Shipping is notorious for not having enough visibility to the wider world unless something bad happens! What do you think can be done to change that?
A: In my opinion this comes down to taking a proactive approach to your work and taking responsibility for your own health and safety, as well as the health and safety of those around you. Specifically for seafarers I believe that shore based training is an excellent way to reinforce the importance of these factors and learn from mistakes that have been made. However, within all aspects of the maritime industry, research and communication is necessary to continuously evolve procedures to ensure that accidents do not occur.
Q: What do you see for your shipping career in the future?
A: As I am currently preparing for my OOW orals I hope to obtain a position as an OOW, and progress through the ranks. With a passion for life at sea my ultimate career goal is to eventually sail as a Captain.
Teresa Peacock is Managing Director of Spinnaker Global Specialist Recruitment and Membership Secretary of WISTA, the Women in Shipping & Trading Association. Follow her on Twitter at @SG_TPeacock