Women in warships – a fading big deal

HMCS Regina’s female crew members pose for a photo to celebrate International Women's Day on the Pacific Ocean during Operation PROJECTON on March 10. Photo by Corporal Stuart Evans, Borden Imaging Services

HMCS Regina’s female crew members pose for a photo to celebrate International Women’s Day on the Pacific Ocean during Operation PROJECTON on March 10. Photo by Corporal Stuart Evans, Borden Imaging Services

Lt(N) Katrina Giesbrecht, HMCS Regina ~

International Women’s Day came and went onboard HMCS Regina with little fanfare.

The 23 female members of Regina were busy with our respective tasks, either preparing to return to sea after a port visit, providing support to repairs on the helicopter, or standing duty.

Each of us joined the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) for different reasons, but all of us view ourselves as professional members of the CAF first, and women in the CAF second.

We represent all three environments and are represented in each of the three messes.

Sometimes we are asked to attend events in order to highlight the diversity in our navy; however, different doesn’t mean wrong, so we appreciate the chance to highlight our experiences to the civilian world, allied navies, and generally across the globe.

When asked about being a woman in the military, LS Dana Kimoto, a member of the Operations Department, said, “I joined the navy almost eight years ago. I really had no idea what to expect as a woman in the military. I’d heard stories of how it was a boy’s club and how ‘boys will be boys’, but in my experience that hasn’t really been the case at all. I’ve found the military to be more respectful and equal than other jobs I’ve had. Being able to visit countries where women’s’ rights are not as advanced, and occasionally interacting with women in other navies, has made me appreciate the freedoms we have as woman in the Canadian military.

Navy newcomer MCpl Amy Kingston was struck by the navy’s motto: “a sailor first.”

“In all activities governing the operation of the ship, be it replenishment at sea, part ship hands or storing ship, all hands are on deck with the sole consideration of carrying out duties safely and efficiently. Gender, age, and all other demographic markers do not come into play when accomplishing these tasks. Experience and leadership are the sole criteria that decides who makes the requisite calls. There is an explicit regard and respect for all which makes serving in Regina a fulfilling and rewarding endeavour, regardless of whether one belongs to a demographic majority or minority.”

In short, the common thread that runs through almost every conversation about being a woman in the navy is that while it is not always easy, it is never boring, and we continue to progress with integration in an organization where there is no gender-based wage gap, and everyone is offered equal opportunity for advancement. 

But perhaps, the greatest sign of how far we’ve come in the generation since women have been allowed to serve at sea, is hearing some male members of Regina remark on how few females there currently are onboard. Our presence at sea is noticed and is continuing to be a positive force in the Royal Canadian Navy today.

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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