23rd June 2019 – International Women in Engineering Day – Christina Douka

22nd June 2019

This year we celebrate 100 years since women became eligible to become members of the (then) Institute of Naval Architects (now RINA) and this Sunday 23rd June is International Women in Engineering Day. To mark this occasion, we asked the women in TMC to reflect on their experiences as women working in the maritime sector, why they chose to embark on their career, what they feel they have achieved and what they see for the future of women in the Maritime sector. We spoke to Naval Architects Christina Douka and Maria Dragoumerli and Naomi Luckett, Marine Consultant/ Emergency Management Co-ordinator to share their thoughts.

I decided to study Naval Architecture out of a passion for the sea and an interest in the way things are made. Undeniably, the maritime field is one of the most male-dominated ones. This is apparent straight away in a number of ways, from the low number of girls in the university classroom to the inappropriate coverall and shoe sizes – especially for a 5’3’’ frame.

My first role was as structural analyst in a classification society, which is a path many women Naval Architects choose. I still do this unusual type of “modelling” in my current position in TMC, but I have also gained new experiences. Whilst undertaking draught surveys I visit the ports of Kent, at all times of day and night, and regularly work with the chief officers and master mariners, who are always happy to have me there.

I had a more exciting experience on the cruise ship CARNIVAL ELATION. I was on board the ship during a drydock in the Bahamas to determine how the ship’s stability had changed in five days of an extensive refit. To achieve this I liaised with everyone involved in the project: the multilingual refit contractors, the company management team and the captain and deck officers. Matters took an unexpected turn when the CARNIVAL ELATION had to urgently abandon her dry dock to avoid a category 5 hurricane.

Notwithstanding the disruption we all worked collaboratively to successfully complete the CARNIVAL ELATION refit. Ultimately this is the only thing that matters: the professional capability to do the job, the technical knowledge, problem solving, attention to detail, project management, tenacity and continuous improvement – Christina Douka

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