It's a man's world? Sheafarers in the shipping industry

Women in seafaring talk about their life and work on board a ship - in a masculine world. Click on their names to read their stories.

SHEafarers Tamara 

We introduce you to the third female seafarer the mission met in the Port of Antwerp

Tamara Gau

36 years old
Chief Officer
Nationality: German
Started to work as an officer in 2009


Tamara is a very enthusiastic and curious person who likes going onshore to discover more in a country than just the Port. She struck us as a very tough and highly self-reflected personality. We hope that sometimes her Monday vessel feeling could be interrupted by a well-deserved Sunday…

lehavre tamara 02

Why did you decide to become seafarer?
Out of the blue actually. Initially, I had other plans but my basic studies in University were with maritime students. That's how I got in contact with this profession and stuck with it ever since.
Why do you love your job?
The variety of duties has the effect you never get bored on board - you assume you know it all and then something happens that shows that this job is full of surprises. I also always enjoy arriving in a port. For me that is what this job is about - "arriving".

What was your most dangerous incident on board?
In 2012, I experienced a pirate attack near Togo, while working on a tanker. Fortunately, nobody was physically hurt. The pirates were mainly interested in the cargo and took everything of value they could find on board. They were discussing to hijack some crewmembers - including me - but we were somehow lucky and they left without seriously harming us.

What do you miss the most on board during a contract?
My loved-ones: the family, my friends and after some months on board I miss my bed so much. Just lazy Sundays where you don't get up before noon. Actually, I am working on a coastal vessel were almost everyday feels like Monday.


What is the most challenging in a crew for an only female seafarer?
To be honest this is not an issue for me anymore. When I was a cadet or younger mate, there were plenty situations where I had to prove myself more than others, where I was observed more than necessary. Some did not take me seriously or gave me a hard time. Being a Chief Mate now, I feel totally respected. Looking back, I met for sure more people on board that supported me more than discrediting me.

Do you see yourself being a feminist?  
If being a feminist means to believe in social, economic and political gender equity - of course I am a feminist. However, the life on board of a cargo vessel is not about that issue. So many seafarers are being treated unfair - regardless of their gender. But we cannot deny that in many countries it is hard for women to start off in the maritime business and they need support.

Would you support your daughter becoming a seafarer?
Well, whatever profession my children chose, I would support them. Nonetheless, I do not encourage young Germans to choose this profession. A German female will not have problems finding a job on board because of gender but because it is simply tough for German seafarers in general nowadays.

Thank you for participating in this project and stay safe and blessed on all your voyages.

lehavre tamara 03

Bündnis: United4Rescue

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