Gone are the days when I was often the only woman on a dive boat. Since joining Fathoms Free – a volunteer marine conservation group conducting regular Dive Against Debris® surveys in the South West of the United Kingdom – I have found a community where women often outnumber men. Female dive volunteers at Fathoms Free come from different backgrounds - marine biology, accounting, environmental protection, regulatory affairs, retail, public sector, art. Some do not dive, but provide invaluable support to divers and help raise awareness. What unites us all is the passion for the ocean and drive to protect it from the pollution and other threats it is facing today.
It is a well-known fact that women are underrepresented in diving. Whatever the reasons are, of which I am sure there are plenty including the socio-economic factors, it is a self-perpetuating circle – women don’t get into diving because there is not a lot of women in diving. This is why days like PADI® Women’s Dive Days, July 15, are so important to encourage women to try this wonderful sport they are absolutely capable of doing and enjoying.
Being a community group managed entirely by volunteers, Fathoms Free never had a gender policy. I like to think all of us, irrespective or gender, gravitated towards it driven by similar values and encouraged by the welcoming, friendly atmosphere. Dive events usually end with a barbeque on the beach, kids come along, and we are never really sure where we are going for a pleasure dive with friends, or another Dive Against Debris® – the lines are blurred. I get inspired every day by the brilliant, passionate, selfless women who sacrifice their time and resources to make the ocean cleaner and safer, for all to enjoy. We support and empower each other, as well as our male colleagues.
The sea is Cornwall’s lifeline – it provides its food, leisure and livelihood. I am very lucky to have been able to train up as a diver – I hold PADI® Rescue Diver qualification at the moment. I thoroughly enjoy diving and feel incredibly privileged to experience this beautiful world, invisible to most. Being able to combine this with conservation gives you an incredible feeling; it is great to be able to give something back to nature. I always encourage my non-diving girl friends to do a try dive – what have they got to lose? They have everything to gain though – it has been life-changing for me.