Meet Jennifer McCaul from Saltcoats, Scotland. Jennifer has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from Strathclyde University and a Foundation Degree from Warsash Maritime Academy. Jennifer has worked on the water for the past 7 years. She is currently assigned to a ship off the coast of West Africa as a Dynamic Positioning Operator, holding both a Chief Mate License for working on unlimited tonnage vessels and an unlimited Dynamic Positioning Certificate.
We caught up with Jennifer to learn more about her career:
Jennifer, what inspired you to work on the water?
“I wanted to join the RAF (Royal Air Force) initially but came across information on careers within the Merchant Navy. It sounded like it would float my boat. (Excuse the pun!)”
Please share a sea story with a lesson learned or a memorable experience you’ve had at sea.
“Sailing with mostly Indian officers throughout my cadetship was extremely difficult as, not only was I from the [culturally different] western side of the world, but I was also female. There are many experiences I could share, which would have a negative tone. However, I’ll choose to say that sailing the deep sea before venturing offshore made me realize how lucky I am, in my current company and position. Also, it has made me a more tolerant and respectful colleague respect. One piece of advice I have learned through my experiences is to not hold grudges with respect to how an individual, culturally different or otherwise, responds to you. Remember that we are all responsible for one another’s safety and the return home to each other’s families at the end of the day.”
What motivates you to continue working on the water if it’s a long-term career for you?
“From the moment I started my cadetship, I wished to be a chief officer. I set myself this goal and feel with every trip, I am learning more and hopefully getting further to succeeding. As proud as I am to be a woman working at sea, I do feel sad that my dream job will one day come to an end.I am married to a marine engineer and, one day, we wish to start a family. I don’t think I could leave my baby at home whilst working away.”
What challenges have you faced in your career?
“I have faced the usual, ‘old school’, stereotypical views that I may not be viewed to have the same value as a male colleague doing the same job, due to my gender. (Although, I would honestly say, in my current company this is a rare view – viewed as just being a figurehead that sits and looks pretty, while on the bridge.)”
What do you think can be done in your industry to encourage more women to pursue similar careers?
“I never really knew much about the Merchant Navy, nor the offshore industry. Perhaps better recruitment campaigns at college and schools, and having those working women relay their experiences on their offshore careers, would be a huge benefit.”
Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your career with us! We wish you the best of luck! Stay safe out there!
The Women Offshore Foundation is an online organization and resource center for a diverse workforce on the water. Its mission is to propel women into meaningful careers through access to a worldwide community and professional development resources, while raising awareness amongst industry leaders and decision makers about issues affecting women on the water. Contact Women Offshore today: firstname.lastname@example.org.