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The Female Voice: Diving Divas (Part 1)

Diving divas

Only 25% of the world’s divers are women

Scuba Diving is still a considered a “manly” activity. Today 75% of the world’s divers are men.  However, this three to one ratio is a vast improvement to the eight to one split that we saw ten years ago. This year  the PADI Women’s Dive Day is on the  18 July, encouraging more diving divas to get involved. So what has changed? Why are more women taking the plunge? How do woman measure up in the big underwater scheme of things? Do women or men make the better student? Who makes the better instructor? What other misconceptions are being debunked in the world of SCUBA? Let’s explore this topic together shall we?

“Manly” sports are usually associated with those requiring a lot of strength, physical exertion and lust for danger. Scuba diving is still considered an “extreme” sport, especially in insurance policy terms because it involves going into an environment that we were not born for. After all – we lack gills and cannot breathe underwater without the use of SCUBA.

I grew up in a diving household. My father was a BSAC instructor with a compressor in the garage and our house always had at least one of his friends there; either for a tank fill or a friendly chat about that weekends diving treats. My mother was a classic “80’s Mom” – with permed curls and an addiction to throwing curry-night dinner parties. She was never interested in scuba diving. All of my father’s diving buddies were men, with the exception of one dare-devil lady called Tina Austin who looked absolutely amazing in her luminous neon wetsuit and matching BCD. Yes, back then, you were considered unusual if you were a girl who loved scuba diving. Luckily, my father encouraged me to be unusual and he fed my curiosity when it came to loving the ocean.

Debunking Diving Misconceptions.

 

I have heard countless statements regarding why men are suited for diving and women are not. Most are ridiculous. None are based on fact and are usually the opinion of those who lack the information or experience to actually make an informed comment one way or another. Well, I’m a diver. I also wear a bra. These two facts about me should not be mutually exclusive.

Ridiculous Statement # 1

Scuba Diving equipment is “heavy” and females are the weaker of the species. Lifting a scuba cylinder should never be attempted by a woman, you will hurt yourself.

Diving is weightless

Diving equipment is only heavy whilst out of the water

Rubbish. It may be heavy, but technique is key. Use your legs and not your back when lifting equipment. Gear up in buddy pairs – the buddy system is there for a reason. I have been lifting tanks since before I was old enough to qualify for a gym membership. I may not be as fast as my male counterpart at loading a dive truck, but I get the job done and who cares if I take an extra five minutes to do it anyhow? In my experience females think through the whole order of unloading naturally, and take more care to ensure the truck is loaded in a systematic way that aids the natural flow of pre-dive preparation. Another thing that non-divers fail to realize is the fact that scuba equipment is only heavy whilst out of the water. It becomes weightless as soon as you get deeper than your belly button, or as soon as you jump off the boat.

Irregardless of this, dive gear has evolved with the market, and the increased numbers of female divers has led to the development of equipment designed with females in mind. BCD’s for women can now distribute the weight of your equipment onto parts of our bodies that are better able to carry a load: i.e. our child bearing hips. My Aqualung jacket is now as comfortable as a warm hug, filled with a lightweight gel that molds my gear to my body. Beautiful.

Ridiculous statement #2

Scuba Diving is dangerous – girls shouldn’t take risks.

Female Diving Divas

Scuba diving safety has nothing to do with gender

Statistics show that recreational scuba diving is about as safe as swimming. As with all things, there are potential risks, but this is why divers require training and certification. Like driving a car, diving is pretty safe if you follow the rules and practice common sense. To put it into perspective, driving yourself to the dive center is the most dangerous element to your day. Statistically champagne corks, vending machines and bathtubs pose more of a threat to your safety than scuba diving.

So when someone asks me “how safe is scuba diving?” I reply by asking them “How responsible is the scuba diver?”

In my experience as an instructor females are more cautious, think through possible problems more and commonly practice safer diving habits than their male counterparts. Most scuba diving fatalities claim the lives of the ignorant, the reckless and the irresponsible: it has nothing to do with gender.

Ridiculous statement #3

You will get eaten by a shark if you dive with a period: they will smell the blood

Diving

Human blood is simply not appealing to sharks

Most people think sharks are mindless man eaters. Thank you Steven Spielberg.  Nothing is further from the truth. Actually humans are the one thing in the ocean that should really be feared, we are the deadliest predator.

As for diving with sharks while “having the painters in” – there is no increased risk. Human blood is simply not appealing to sharks. Ralph S. Collier, a shark behavior expert who has been documenting shark attacks since 1963 claims that our terrestrial blood simply does not invoke the same reaction as the blood from a sea otter for example. They will not go into a feeding frenzy and eat you, so don’t worry, dive happy ladies

Ridiculous statement #4

Divers are not sexy. Diving makes you ugly.

diving is sexy

That smile? You have to earn it. You have to dive it.

All of our curves and “in and out bits” are covered in a heavy layer of neoprene. Woman can’t be sexy in scuba – and women have to be sexy at all times for the sake of the survival of the human race. Pull the other one. Female divers are full of passion, enthusiasm and endorphins. There is nothing sexier than that in my book.

As for diving making you ugly, I’m pretty sure that Mother Nature is more influential on your looks than salt water and an increased exposure to the sun. Ok, so hair that is sticking out at all angles looks a bit odd, as does that mascara that is covering half your face in a perfect mask outline, but You have to dive it. Who cares if you don’t look like you just climbed out of the latest fashion magazine? Everyone knows they have been photoshopped to death anyway, those photos are not real – that awesome turtle you just saw is.

Ridiculous statement #5

Women do not have a technical mind, how can they dive if they can’t even read a map?

Tech Diving Diva

Women make great technical divers

This is so sexist and terribly untrue. Scuba diving has been brought to the recreational masses, not just to those who can pee standing up. The top minds of the world are primarily men for the same reason that diving is regarded as a male sport. Sheer prejudice. Luckily the balance in all walks of life are becoming fairer, and even more traditional cultures are realizing the potential of utilizing both sexes. Diving is also becoming more equal. I cannot wait for the day when there is a perfect 50/50 split in the scuba diving world.

 

 

 

 

So there you go. Five ridiculous statements answered. Have you, sister diver, heard any other hideous over generalized statements that you would like to share with me? I’m always up for a giggle.

 

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