In honor of International Women’s Day, I thought I’d tell you about an amazing woman who has broken quite a few glass ceilings. Her name is Deborah Doane Dempsey. She was the first woman to graduate from a US maritime academy back in 1976. She graduated as the valedictorian of her class in the Maine Maritime Academy. In 1994, she was awarded an honorary PhD from that same academy.
She was also the first woman to receive a merchant marine unlimited masters license, and would be the first woman to sail as such. She was the first American woman to command a cargo ship on international voyages. She was the only woman captain to earn a US Navy Meritorious Public Service Award during the Persian Gulf War.
In 1998 she published a book about her amazing life entitled, Captain’s a Woman. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s definitely on my outrageously long “to be read” list. It has great reviews.
In 2007, she became a Columbia River Bar Pilot, which is not for the feint of heart. The picture below is of her climbing up the side of a ship in inclement weather to pilot them in. Those can be some rough and vengeful seas.
Captain Dempsey takes great pride in paying her dues and earning the respect of her coworkers by being good at what she does. She is a hard working woman in a rough and tumble career. I think she’s an inspiration.
I know what it’s like to work in a male oriented career. They don’t make it easy for you. It takes guts. But don’t ever let someone use your gender as a way to hold you back. We can do anything men can do, and with a little integrity, determination, strength, and confidence, we can often do it even better.
Happy International Women’s Day!
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