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does age really matter?
Posted: Friday, July 3, 2009 6:32 PM
Joined: 30/06/2009
Posts: 3

Hi there,

I am about to take my stcw95 along with a hospitality stew course as i am totally committed to starting a new career as a stew and hopefully will get to chief stew one day, but i spoke to a couple of agencies and a sailing academy, who told me in not so many words to forget it as its unheard of for a 42 yr female to get a job!at entry level!! let alone at any level - that captains and chief stews want young girls. I have 20,000 nautical miles logged as well, so no newcomer to sailing, a b1/b2 visa and a completely professional positive approach yet i am getting so put off - does age or perception more to the point really matter?

All views welcome - if this is how it is best i hear it now!



Posted: Sunday, July 5, 2009 1:32 AM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1064

Well, kinda.... With 20,000 miles, if you were standing watches and know what you're doing with vessel operations, then I would suggest you pick up a license such as an OOW and move into a deck rating. If you have that level of experience, you aren't really looking at entry level positions. A Deck/Stew position on a large sail boat may be the most accessible to you. As much, if not more, of a barrier than your age is "Are you attractive and physically fit?" Now don't go shooting the messenger here. I'm not saying it's right, wrong or indifferent, just a 92% reality. There are women over 50 working in the industry, they take pride in keeping themselves looking good and in shape. It makes a difference because even on a first meeting/interview, it says that she has commitment and makes a concerted effort, and a person assumes that that personality trait will carry over into the job. What can win you a spot though is personality. If you can be fun and do the job, that can be your advantage over the young beauty queen with a poor attitude. In the long run, brains and personality still win you a position somewhere. You'll need to be plenty thick skinned though, because I foresee considerable rejection coming your way. There are positions for everyone out there, sometimes they take a while to come around. In the mean time, there is always freelance work. People are much less fussy about age and looks hiring freelancers and day workers. It's a good opportunity to get out there and let your talents and personality be seen. So, while yes, there is a lot of age discrimination going on in the business, especially on what are considered the "prime" boats, there are considerably more "sub-prime" boats out there and enough of them have captains and owners (and owners wives...owners wives don't typically like the "pretty young things") who just want someone who gets along, is happy and does their job well and without complaining constantly. Good luck.
Posted: Sunday, July 5, 2009 5:03 PM
Yes, age will count against you. But that doesn't mean you can't find work. People in the industry love to dress this up in all kinds of different ways- "energetic" ie. 19 years old and easily exploited, "professional appearance" ie. the captain finds you attractive. There are no two ways about it, the industry is sexist. An 40 year old man with your experience will find work more easily than a woman in the same position. Furthermore, agencies are interested in crew they can place easily. I got virtually no calls from agencies my first season despite a long background in hospitality. Every position I found, from daywork to freelance positions to a permanent job, came from networking. So go out to yachtie bars, meet as many people as you can, and be open to smaller boats, freelance positions and deck/stew positions. Good luck!!