On facebook today, I became quite angry over a post from a diving agency. The text was usual enough: “What is the most important piece of diving equipment?” but the picture is what really pissed me off.
The picture was of two girls, bikini clad, making duck faces. One of them had a regulator slung over her arm. The focus of the picture was not the regulator.
This picture encompassed how many women feel about the diving industry. Objectified. Used as props. And then, disregarded.
The comment section had an interesting argument flaring up. At least a few men had noticed that the women had little to nothing to do with diving equipment. Most of the remarks were about “diving” with the women and “women that pretty don’t dive”. Things like that.
So I thought I’d write a post about how to treat women divers, which (spoiler alert!) is really just an allegory for How You Should Treat People (in general).
1) Don’t make assumptions. Men on the boat call me sweetie. They ask me if I need help setting up my gear. They offer their assistance in case I’ve forgotten what a regulator is, or which way my tank goes. News flash: don’t assume a woman doesn’t know what she’s doing because she’s a woman. Don’t assume anything. I won’t assume you know what you’re doing, just because you’ve offered your services.
2) Don’t belittle questions. If someone asks a question, and you know the answer, give it. Don’t talk down to someone. Don’t belittle or chide them. Asking a question sometimes requires bravery, don’t punish someone admitting what they don’t know. Encourage questions. Encourage discussions. And if you don’t know the answer? Defer to someone who DOES. Everyone can learn something new.
3)Don’t treat women divers as wives or mothers who are just “tagging along” treat them as fellow divers, out to enjoy a dive, like the rest of us. We all got into diving for different reasons, and it doesn’t really matter why, what matters is that we are here now, together, and we want to dive.
4) Don’t make sexual remarks about women behind their back (we hear that shit). What do you think, this is Mad Men? This is the 1960’s? Just because you treat diving like a boy’s club does not make it so. This is not YOUR club. It is OUR club. Remarks like that may be overheard by other people, making them uncomfortable and creating a hostile environment in general. This is kind of along the lines of, if you don’t have anything nice to say: keep your mouth shut.
5) Encourage divers. Realize that everyone has different needs and responds to different things. Could you imagine if you were the reason someone quit diving? Your bad attitude made them never come back? That makes you part of the problem. When more people are happy and helping the industry grow, everyone will benefit.
6) Stop making all female dive gear in pink and purple. Obviously, this isn’t aimed at divers but at diving equipment manufacturers. For the love of Garibaldi, some women like pink, some women like orange. I had a nasty shock the other day when a perfectly inconspicuous wetsuit turned into a floral nightmare once it hit the water. Imagine my shock, a little warning here guys!!And how come I don’t see that happen to my male dive buddies? Never once has one purchased a black and grey wetsuit, jumped in and then had flowers pop up all over! Women, like men, enjoy many different colors.
I love scuba diving, and I love scuba divers, but I still see a lot of shit that seems to be ingrained into people. I have purposely sought out female instructors to lead me, I have surrounded myself by strong women who work in the industry, I defer to their advice when I am confused or annoyed. And I teach women to scuba dive, and make them feel welcome in my community, the one that I am building, along with others who are ready to leave this machismo attitude behind in the dust.
But more than that, I try to make ALL divers feel welcome, feel excited, and try not to exclude anyone who might be the next Cousteau, who might find the cure to cancer in tropical reefs, who is inspired to be a better person, or to preserve the world because they have been exposed to the ocean. It’s not about gender, it’s about excitement, exploration, inclusion, and fun.
* you can download more PADI statistics here: