Who's navigating? A man’s world? How one woman is successfully building a career at sea

01 Jun 2014 The Navigator

In this series, The Navigator speaks to current navigational personnel about their motivations, careers to date and thoughts for the future. In this issue, Second Officer Fani-Sotiria Provatari discusses the challenges facing women at sea and reveals what, for her, are the greatest rewards of the navigator’s profession

What triggered your interest in building a professional career at sea?
From a young age, I always had a passion for traveling and had hoped that I would some day have the chance to explore the entire world. This career path, albeit demanding and a tough slog, certainly has given me this opportunity.

How did you end up in your current position?
I began as an apprentice onboard a passenger ship. While one of the more stimulating aspects of my position was the interaction I had with passengers, it was the seamless communication and effective teamwork between the other crew members and myself that spurred me on to continue in this career.

Where do you see your career going from here?
I do have high hopes, even though building a career at sea is particularly difficult for women, given the predominantly male environment at every tier. I would like to pursue further training, as appropriate, to potentially help me take my career ashore, working either for a shipping company or for the Coast Guard.

How do you feel during a navigational watchkeeping shift on the bridge?
There is pressure and a lot of responsibility that makes it imperative to do my job properly. I feel satisfied, especially when my supervisors are happy with me and the way I perform my duties while keeping watch.

What do you consider as the most important reward of your work onboard?
To be recognised as being good at what I do and to have my worth appreciated by others. To gain new knowledge and experiences.

In your opinion, what are the greatest challenges for bridge officers in the future?
Bridge officers must prove their knowledge and competence on a daily basis. There is intense competition, especially among women, to make it in a profession dominated by men.

Bridge officers must prove their knowledge and competence on a daily basis