Women in Diving
Twenty years ago, diving was generally considered a man's sport and the number of women divers taking up diving as compared to men was quite low. However, early women divers were pioneers in the sport and they helped lead the way for the many women now exploring the wonders of the underwater world. Women like oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, shark researcher Dr. Eugenie Clark, author/instructor/naturalist Dee Scarr, photographer/videographers Cathy Church and Valerie Taylor, and many others have contributed to the growth in number of women diving.
The decade of the 90s has seen an explosion of recreational scuba divers certified on an annual basis. Today, more than a third of all new divers are women and, in the United States alone, more than 120,000 women earn scuba certifications annually.
This leap in certification numbers for women divers is due to many things. Quite possibly, the biggest reason is the change in attitudes of those in the dive industry. For instance, certification organizations like PADI realize that recreational scuba training does not have to be difficult, intense, physically grueling, complicated, or oriented to how to avoid danger. This change in attitude helps eliminate the notion of scuba diving being a male-only activity.
Scuba equipment manufacturers have also noticed the increasing numbers of female divers and have reacted accordingly. Many companies now produce customized equipment manufactured with women in mind. Simple things, like more choices in fins that feature smaller sizes and a greater selection of proper-fitting wetsuits, have made diving more comfortable to females.
With the explosion of recreational diving certifications, it stands to reason that more professionals would be needed to address the demand of the diving community. Many women are following in the footsteps of those early pioneers and devoting their careers to recreational scuba diving.
The PADI Divemaster course is the first step within the PADI System to reach this goal. The supervision skills learned in this course are critical to the dive leader. Then there's the PADI Assistant Instructor certification, which has recently been enhanced to provide additional opportunities for this level of dive professional. Either of these PADI certifications help pave the way for the individual who seeks to earn her instructor qualification with PADI.
The PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) is designed to provide instructor training to individuals who already possess instructor-level dive theory knowledge, role-model watermanship and rescue skills, and leadership abilities. Building on these qualifications, instructor candidates learn how to teach the PADI System in the classroom, confined water, and open water environments. They also gain a complete understanding of PADI's educational goals and philosophies.
Today, approximately 17% of the instructor candidates attending the PADI Instructor Examination (IE) are female. The percentage continues to grow and is well beyond that of ten years ago. Whether the thought is to pursue a new career as a diving professional or simply enjoying the wonders of the underwater world, women are diving into scuba diving in record numbers.