Pay attention to equality ‘basics’ to encourage more women at sea, says ETO cadet Catherine Caseman
ETO cadet Catherine Caseman works on oil tankers. She says careers at sea could be more inclusive by getting the basics right – such a providing correctly fitting safety clothing, gender neutral documentation, and for companies to bring back support for chartership status.
What is a typical day in your job?
I have spent much of my sea time completing the tasks in my training record book (TRB), writing reports and preparing for my orals.
The morning and early afternoon are usually spent undertaking planned maintenance, with the time after our afternoon break spent preparing permits for the following day and writing up the work orders from the morning on the planned maintenance software. Unplanned maintenance is also undertaken as and when the need arises.
Why did you decide on a career at sea?
Before I applied to become a cadet, I went to university after finishing school and studied BSc Physical Geography at the University of Leicester. I decided to apply to work at sea as I was looking for a career which would offer me something different from the usual graduate office job that my peers were aiming for. I never actually believed I’d get a place and as such only applied to one company for a cadetship. I was inspired by the stories told by my late grandfather who worked as an engineer in the Merchant Navy in the fifties. After he died, I applied through the National Archives at Kew and was able to find further information on his seafaring career.
Tell us some of your career highlights so far – and challenges
I think for me the true highlight was the feeling of progression, especially during my second trip where I really gained in confidence. I felt by the end of my last trip I was ready to finish the cadetship and qualify.
In our company, female seafarers are invited down to the office once a year, so we are able to bring up issues and make recommendations to resolve them.
I’ve always found the company to be very clear on diversity and inclusion and have felt very supported. I did spend three months during my second trip as the only female on board and it wasn’t something I really noticed.
The college are beginning a female seafarer networking/mentorship scheme which was starting just as I left for sea which I look forward to getting involved in now I’m back for phase 5.
I have had a few issues with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). For example, my hand size is a seven but the smallest glove size available from the company suppliers is an eight. The other female cadet on my last ship was a