I have been diving for well over half of my life. In my early diving days, I was my dad’s dive buddy, and together we went on dive trips throughout the Caribbean. Frequently I was the only female on the boat. I was sort of a novelty; not only was I female, I was also a child. On the rare occasion that there were other females on the boat, particularly dive guides, I would get so excited. It was reassurance that I was not such an odd fish...proof that other women also enjoyed the sport I loved so much. As I have progressed through my diving career, women are no longer the exception. Wives, mothers, daughters, dive professionals...all women who are active in the sport of scuba diving and enjoy exploring the underwater world. They continue to prove that scuba diving is a sport for everyone.
Sally Ride once said, “Young girls need to see role models in whatever careers they may choose, just so they can picture themselves doing those jobs someday. You can’t be what you can’t see.” Seeing is believing as seeing provides an affirmation of equality in all careers and activities women engage in. Women need role models, and the underwater world is brimming with some amazing ones. Dr. Sylvia Earle, known as “Her Deepness,” has been breaking down barriers for decades through her work as an oceanographer, explorer, scuba diver, and author. Christina Zenato is a daredevil scuba diver, researcher and advocate that has been working with sharks for almost 20 years, challenging the stereotype that all sharks are man-eating monsters. Becky Kagan Schott is an Emmy Award winning underwater cameraman, photographer and technical diver who uses her skills to tell the stories of the underwater world.
Not all scuba role models, however, have been inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame (like Sylvia, Christina and Becky). Silvia Abeloe is a dear friend who for years has supported her husband’s passion for scuba diving but has always remained on shore while he has explored the world’s oceans. This year she overcame her fears and became a certified scuba diver herself, quickly falling in love with the sport. Heather Deerenberg is a U.S. Army veteran and mother of twin boys. Last year she became scuba certified through Diving with Heroes in an effort to find a sport she would have fun with and a community that she could become a part of. Cindy Malloy is a dive professional and technical diver who is living her dream in Mexico. It all began with internet searches trying to figure out what to do with her life...now she shares an office with whale sharks and manta rays, and explores underwater caverns in her free time.
Why do I support PADI’s Women’s Dive Day initiative? Because women need the support and encouragement of their dive community to continue to pursue their passion. Because women need to know that they share a passion with other likeminded divers. And because women need to see themselves as breaking barriers and doing awesome things...becoming, in turn, role models for the next generation of scuba divers (both female and male).