Dive in Girls!

Indiana Sarah - Sarah Ward Maritime Archaeologist on an ascent from the Valiant shipwreck, Pittwater, Australia

A while back, I did an interview with Erin Stern (nee Leach) from PADI, as part of their ‘Women in Diving’ series. PADI is the world’s largest diver training agency and Erin is one of those people who makes an incredible first impression – smart, focused and exceptionally friendly. She put me at east straight away …

A keen diver, Erin is PADI’s Asia Pacific’s Marketing Executive and she is focused squarely on increasing the number of women in diving. At the moment only one-third of all recreational divers are women and PADI wants to know why.

As I’m both a commercial diver with UK HSE and ADAS qualifications and a certified PADI DiveMaster, I’m in the minority, so we naturally talked a lot about women in diving. Erin wanted to know what I thought were the biggest opportunities and challenges facing women in diving, and what barriers, if any, women may perceive exist.

You can read the full interview on the PADI blog here.

I’ve also pulled out some bits of the interview that I enjoyed most …

PADI:     What does your diving certification mean to you?

Sarah:    Everything! I’m a water baby through and through. Without my PADI certifications, I wouldn’t be able to do what I love most.

PADI:     Who has inspired you throughout your career, and what sparked your passion for maritime archaeology?

Sarah:    As a little girl, I was absolutely obsessed with Jacques Cousteau and his undersea adventures. I come from a maritime family, grew up on boats, and spent many of my holidays playing on the shipwrecks at Tangalooma, near my family home in Brisbane. I guess you could say that salt water is in my blood. It was only once I was older that I realised that I wanted to make maritime archaeology my career. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to work with, learn from, and be supported by, some incredibly talented individuals in both diving and maritime archaeology. Male and female alike. For that I will always be grateful …

PADI:     What do you feel are the most important challenges and opportunities facing women in diving? How can we get more women in the water and involved in the dive community?

Sarah:    I honestly believe that there are no challenges specific to women in diving.  Yes, as a woman you may be in the minority (as only one-third of all PADI divers are women), however to me, this presents an opportunity; an opportunity to stand up, stand out, and be the best diver you can be, both in and out of the water.  Whether you are interested in diving occasionally as a holiday activity, diving regularly for sport, or are working in recreational, technical, scientific or commercial diving, the opportunities are asexpansive as our oceans. I have been fortunate enough to work my way around the world, with some of the most intelligent, capable people this planet has to offer − if it wasn’t for PADI, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. Yes, the gear may be a little cumbersome, but isn’t a gender-specific issue.

You can find the full interview here.

A special thanks must go to Erin Leach and the team from the PADI for asking me to pitch up and do what I do best – talk! If you would like more information on PADI, please click here. Information on how to become a PADI diver is available here.

Out of interest … why do you think only one-third of all divers are women??

Photographs taken during the Ederline Crannog Excavation by Charlotte Pham.

About Sarah Ward

I’m Sarah Ward, a maritime archaeologist, commercial diver and factual presenter with 16 years experience, both in and out of the water. I’ve investigated sites ranging from the Bronze Age to the modern, across more than 20 countries. A Visiting Professor at Dalian Maritime University and MIT Ocean Discovery Fellow, I am on a mission to bring archaeology to a broader audience, helping people to connect with the past in a meaningful way.

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(c) Indiana Sarah 2019