"> Women & The Sea : The Mariner's Museum
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Myths and Mermaids
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Life in Port
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Going to Sea
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Lighthouse Keepers
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Changing Roles for Women
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Women in the Military
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Women in Wartime Production
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Early Yachting and Racing
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Women and the Sea in the 20th Century
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Humankind's relationship with the sea has changed radically over the last few centuries, and women's roles continue to change with it. Where once women darned sailors' socks and waited patiently for their men to return from the sea, today they are involved in a variety of maritime occupations. From all-women's crews in professional sailing competitions to the members of the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, women are successfully contributing to modern maritime culture. No longer are the waterfronts, rivers, lakes, and oceans of the world exclusively a male domain.

Catherine Via and Beatrice Taylor
Courtesy of Starke Jett

Catherine Via and Beatrice Taylor Unloading the Catch
Courtesy of Starke Jett
Catherine Via and Beatrice Taylor:
A Family Tradition

Quicktime Movie: Women Working on the Water

Beatrice Taylor Working Her Crab Pots
Courtesy of Starke Jett

Catherine Via and Beatrice Taylor own and operate Payne's Crab House in Urbanna, Virginia. After helping out with the business since childhood, they took over from their father Avery Payne after his death in 1977. Beatrice uses a small boat to catch crabs while Catherine sorts and packs them for shipment. Currently, Beatrice is the only woman in Virginia with a crabbing license.

Beatrice and her sister Catherine use a new method of drawing female crabs into their pots, seeding each with a "Jimmy," or male crab, to attract the females. The sisters nickname their crabs after icons of masculinity, such as "Burt" for Burt Reynolds or "Tom" for Tom Selleck.

BM3 Heidi Glendy at the Helm of Her Small Boat
Gregg Vicik, photographer The Mariners' Museum

Quicktime Movie: Heidi Glendy

Bosun's Mate Third Class Heidi Glendy is a coxswain aboard the USCGC Legare. An Indianapolis native, Glendy joined the Coast Guard three years ago. Now she drives small boats during drug interdictions, works with migrants, and helps fishing vessels. Other duties include training others and boat maintenance. Ultimately, she would like to pilot one of the Coast Guard's most dangerous boats, the self-righting cutter.
Captain Allison Ross, Maryland Pilot
Gregg Vicik, photographer The Mariners' Museum

Quicktime Movie: Working Across

Captain Ross chose a career at sea after being introduced to the seafaring life by her father, who took her along on several voyages while he worked on merchant ships. After graduating from the New York Merchant Marine Academy, Ross worked on oil tankers for ten years. Rising from third mate, she would go on to receive her master's license. She became the first woman accepted in the Maryland Pilots Association, and has been piloting the Chesapeake Bay for ten years.
Jennifer Boykin, Director of Facilities, Newport News Shipyard and Dry Dock Company
Gregg Vicik, photographer
The Mariners' Museum
Jennifer Boykin earned an engineering degree from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. She joined Newport News Shipbuilding in 1987, working in nuclear engineering until she transferred to carrier construction. Her work as construction superintendent on the USS Harry S. Truman and USS John C. Stennis earned her the status of the first woman to oversee construction of a carrier. She currently serves as the director of facilities for Newport News Shipbuilding.

Interview a man or a woman who works in a maritime field such as the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, the merchant marines, or sailing.

Make a list of questions to ask the person. You might ask why this person wanted to work in jobs that involve the sea. What are his or her duties and training? After the interview, ask yourself if this would be a career you would like to try.

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