In celebration of PADI Women’s Dive Day, The Bermudian spoke with Senior Lead Instructor Marlee Cram from Dive Bermuda, who is gearing up to host the company’s sixth annual event this Saturday with an emphasis on unity, conservation and inclusivity.
BM: What is the purpose of PADI Women’s Dive Day, and how is Dive Bermuda celebrating the occasion?
MC: For the past seven years, divers from every corner of the globe have come together for PADI Women’s Dive Day to bond over their love of the ocean and a passion for diving. This growing tradition will continue this year, further strengthening and supporting the female dive community through a day of fun, adventure and camaraderie. PADI Dive Centers and Resorts hosted more than 700 events in 77 countries last year for the seventh annual PADI Women’s Dive Day on 16th July 2021. Since the 2015 inaugural event, the celebration has continued to gain momentum as new and experienced divers gear up for an underwater adventure.
Each year with Dive Bermuda I have hosted a themed event that aims to bring our lady divers together- we often have some form of conservation included as well- usually it is plastic free or a focus on raising awareness of Bermuda’s truly pristine reefs. This year we are celebrating Island Girl living her Island Life.
BM: How long has Dive Bermuda been hosting the annual PADI Women’s Dive Day Event, and what significance does this hold to yourself and the company?
MC: We have been hosting PADI Women’s Dive Day since my first summer season in Bermuda- 2017. As a strong female leader working in a male dominated industry, I found it a perfect way to tip the scales and really raise awareness that women should dive, we are welcome on dive boats, we don’t need to be shy- but loud and proud about our love for adventure and conservation.
One thing I am very proud of is our strong diving sisterhood in Bermuda, I have been involved in diving programs with BHS and each summer I certify girls that go on to not only love diving but make friends and create these fantastic memories. I am proud to be role models for these girls and to watch them become young women that are safe and responsible divers that also advocate for Bermuda’s marine environment.
It’s a very special sporting event, that allows us to celebrate not only women and girls in diving but to build on our diving community.
BM: What do you hope events like this will convey to women in the industry, and those eager to be a part of it?
MC: I think one thing I have observed in the last 4-5 years is the gradual increase in girls and women in diving. It is awesome to step onto a dive boat and see a few females diving together- it is reassuring and welcoming. The BHS program is definitely going to continue to make sure we are providing not only equal opportunities for Bermudian girls to dive but also for these girls to witness their female Instructors moor up boats, gear up and talk about wrecks and marine biology in a way that proves to them that we- as female Instructors- can do everything that a male Instructor can.
I think it is also invaluable to showcase to our members and guests that in Bermuda we support women in diving, over the years of PADI Women’s Dive Day events I have made some great friends that return to dive with me every year! There is a certain freedom of just having girls and women on the dive boat and I want to support that as much as I can.
BM: In your eyes, is there a misrepresentation of women in Bermuda’s diving industry?
MC: I would have to say honestly- no- I know a lot of fabulous, powerful, and amazing female divers in Bermuda. I would, however, say that we are underrepresented in the community. I feel scuba diving in Bermuda holistically is under valued within the wider community. We have these amazing reefs- our reefs are some of the healthiest in the world! Some of the ONLY reefs that are still growing!
I feel women have always been such consistent and effective ocean advocates- look at Fae Sapsford- one woman has raised so much interest in Bermuda’s marine life and it’s precious ecosystems.
Events like PADI Women’s Dive Day really aim to increase solidarity as divers but also to strengthen awareness of what we have in our ocean ‘backyard’.
BM: Half of Dive Bermuda’s staff is female, would you say that this is a rare occurrence?
MC: Yes, this is something that we are very proud of. Both women and men at Dive Bermuda work together to make this center the best in Bermuda. I would also like to state that Dive Bermuda has some fantastic and supportive male counterparts. PADI Women’s Dive Day is also about inclusivity, and it must be noted that my partner- Will our Boat Master- does a lot behind the scenes to make sure this event always runs smoothly. We would not have such a successful event without our male team as well- big shout out to Captain Heinz, Arran and Will.
BM: As a female diver yourself, did you find it difficult to pursue a career in the industry? What obstacles did you face, if any?
MC: If I am perfectly honest- quite a few- as a manager there are times when I will need to reply as Will to get something done. It’s frustrating! However, this is for a minority of our guests.
There are countless double standards- unwanted comments, asking if I need help to lift the gear, praise for something that would be ‘normal’ for a man to do, dealing with male ego and being patronized.
There are also some really rewarding benefits- being a role model for young girls and women. There is one young woman that I first started teaching when she was 15- she now works with us a Divemaster over summer. I value showing girls and women the underwater world and knowing that my presence makes them comfortable, that just by being with them they have a better experience. This could also be applied to some men- we are less egotistical, we pick up on hidden cues and are often more approachable.
BM: Why is it advantageous for women to gain a scuba diving certification? What opportunities are available to women either professionally or recreationally, after becoming PADI certified?
MC: First of all- peace and quiet! No one can talk to you underwater and I find that a lot of women enjoy ‘switching off’ under water. It is an individual sport and who doesn’t absolutely love being in nature? For me- the benefits are diverse enough for me to choose this my career- this isn’t a summer fling for me!
The social aspect is phenomenal, you will meet people that have similar passions as you do- whether it’s underwater photography, learning about coral and invertebrates, sharing experiences from diving in tropical locations, marine history buffs and those individuals that just love ocean adventure. Meeting like minded people can not be beaten!
I have been a PADI Pro for over 10 years and the friends I have made are from all over the world- Bermuda, France, Spain, Philippines, Thailand, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Jordan, Cyprus, Vietnam, Sweden, Belgium, – the list goes on and on! I have traveled and worked in many exotic locations, being a Scuba Instructor has taken me all over the world!
Robyn Vincent, who worked with Dive Bermuda for five years is a true testament to proving that dedication to instructing, teaching and inspiring others to dive can take you all around the world. She is now the PADI Regional Manager of Consultation and Training in New Zealand!
There is also an aspect of conservation to diving. Robyn has always been passionate about conservation; she was (and still is) our Lionfish Queen- winning the island title in 2019, she has inspired many of our lady divers (including myself!) to pick up a spear and learn how to hunt this venomous and ultimately devastating predator and help conserve Bermuda’s marine life! Whilst we miss Robyn, we know we will see her again and wish her all the best working as one of the top PADI Managers!
BM: What advice would you give to women who are curious about learning how to scuba dive but don’t know where to start?
MC: Send me an email or give me a call, let me share with you one of the best things in the world- the marine environment! Here at Dive Bermuda safety is a priority and I know that women take less risks than men- it’s a fact- we have some very experienced Instructors that know their profession. I understand it can be a bit intimidating, maybe even overwhelming- but I can guarantee after your first dive on North Rock- you will be changed forever. In the ocean, we connect.
If you are interested in learning how to scuba dive, you can contact Marlee by calling 441-293-7319 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.