Women in Diving
In appreciation of PADI’s initiative “Women’s Dive Day”, which for 2019 is on 20th July, we’re taking a look at women in diving. With around 65% of certified divers being male, this annual celebration was conceived in 2015 to acknowledge and encourage more women in scuba diving. So we’ll look at historical women, innovative women, and adventurous women. We’ll ask why diving is great for women, and how women can often make the best scuba divers!
All The Diving Ladies
So who are our notable women in diving? From the trailblazers to the dynasties to the up and coming, it’s great for women to have role models in their chosen sport. Clearly, diving is no different.
Born in 1928, Lotte is often thought of as the ‘First Lady’ of diving. Not only a determined diver, Hass played a pivotal role in the historical story of underwater photography. She was first to film manta rays and whale sharks. Lotte’s impact on diving all took place before her marriage to diving pioneer Hans Hass, showing her importance in her own right!
Trailblazer Dottie fashioned her own home-made snorkel mask before the age of 10! She began teaching skin diving in 1940 and became the first United States female scuba instructor in the early 1950’s.
One of the figureheads who established Women’s Dive Day, marine biologist Dr Sylvia Earle has been a National Geographic explorer-in-residence since 1998. She was the first female chief scientist of the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Earle’s honours list is substantial and she’s a real icon in diving.
Granddaughter of Simone and Jaques Cousteau, Celine was inducted into the Women Divers’ Hall of Fame in 2011. Following her nautical upbringing on the family’s famous research vessel the Calypso, Celine’s film company focus on work that communicates environmental and socio-cultural issues.
As a figurehead of therapeutic diving, Cody Unser first set up her First Step Foundation at the age of 13. Her desire was to raise awareness and develop quality-of-life programs for the autoimmune condition that left her paralysed. She’s worked on developing adaptive scuba as a therapeutic tool. The foundation and its initiatives have encouraged studies into the neurological and psychological effects of scuba diving on paralysis.
Why is diving great for women?
Regular scuba divers will benefit from the incentive to keep fit. Your dive experiences will be far better if you have a good base of fitness. So when you have your next dive holiday booked and anticipated, you’ll be far more inclined to go out for that run even if you’re feeling sluggish! Not only this, though - but diving is a great workout too! So even if you only get to scuba dive a couple of times a year, those periods will work as an intensive boot camp experience!
While underwater, the constant noise and pressure of modern living is erased. You can experience a peace and sense of focus that is simply not possible on the surface. Exploring underwater habitats and wildlife brings you closer to the natural world in a way that is truly grounding. Plus - you have to leave your phone behind! Which has to be a good thing, right?
Even if you feel daunted by your first dive, each course and experience will build your confidence. Start off with a PADI Discover Scuba Diving Course and move on from there. If you’re already a certified diver, there is always something new to learn to further build your expertise. Develop to Rescue Diving or Deep Diving, Adventure Diving and even the PADI Divemaster Course.
The diving community is reason alone to get involved. From keeping in touch online to hooking up in exotic destinations across the globe, the world of diving is an inclusive and positive community.
What makes women great at diving?
Now, we don’t want to cast aspersions or play on stereotypes… But women are often better non-verbal communicators. This is a vital skill whilst diving when all of your communication with your buddy is via hand signals. Women are, of course, also great verbal communicators but this will have to wait for the bar after a dive!
This is true both of breathing and of calmness under pressure. Anecdotally, many diving couples report that a female’s air tanks tend to last longer than their male counterparts. Whether this is down to lung size or breathing control, it’s certainly a benefit! Similarly, the difference between male and female hormone release during moments of stress mean that in general women are more likely to remain emotionally controlled.
Women (especially those who spend a lot of time watching out for small people - you know who you are!) tend to have wider peripheral awareness. So any dangers may be spotted sooner. They also tend to be more risk averse, which naturally impacts whether they find themselves in dangerous situations. Of course, these patterns aren’t true for everyone - we all know a few risk takers amongst our female friends!
At the heart of encouraging new generations into diving, both male and female, is opportunity. Sometimes an occupation like diving that requires lots of gear can seem daunting and prohibitive. This is why holidays are such a fantastic time to try diving on for size! If you’re travelling with your family and have always fancied giving diving a go, why not offer the kids the chance too? It is these experiences as children that allow us all to discover what we like and what we don’t. So it could be the taster of a PADI Bubblemaker course while on holiday that inspires the next diving superstar!
From figureheads to lifestyle to health, the world of female diving is as vast and unending as the ocean itself. Across the range of PADI courses, there is something to suit every woman and indeed every individual. One thing is clear: women divers are great. We hope to see loads more of you!
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