Women Working Offshore
The stated reasons for concern about women working offshore have always been that they could not do the work required or that the work places lacked the physical accommodations, such as bathrooms and living quarters, needed by women.
The problems men describe have as much to do with the disruption of the all-male culture as they do with getting work done. Working offshore takes men away from the responsibilities of home – which includes the responsibility to act respectfully.
In entering the all male offshore work place, women disrupted the work culture that defined who could and who couldn’t be a member of the team. The changes in workplace culture that accompanied the inclusion of women challenged ideologies that had been assumed to be critical to the smooth and efficient functioning of the industry.
For the most part, men expect that a woman’s success will depend on her willingness and ability to adapt to the male culture. However men too have to adjust, though fewer are likely to acknowledge that men’s attitudes and behaviors are key factors in women’s experiences.
Learning to respect women as co-workers comes easier for some than for others. Even when men conclude that the women have done a good job, their language often conveys a certain degree of condescension. Embedded in these posts is evidence of the significance of the challenge to the traditional male roles and ideologies and the resistance to change.
Some men are quick to recognize a woman’s competence while others continue to dismiss their success. Even now decades after the first women have been working offshore, women are regularly reminded that their gender keeps them apart.
Thirty-five years after the first women began working offshore, women are still a rarity and each one has to negotiate her relationships with her co-workers on the basis of gender as well as performance. The ultimate goal for a woman is to be accepted and treated as both a woman and a co-worker.