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Women and Scuba Diving

Woman diving through bait ball of fish.

Women and Scuba Diving

March 8th is International Women’s Day and of course, this is the perfect occasion to dedicate an entire post to women and scuba diving.

We’re going to look at:

  • What percentage of scuba divers are female?
  • Are Women Better Scuba Divers than Men?
  • Sites dedicated to women and scuba diving
  • Famous women in scuba diving
  • Reasons why women are great dive buddies

What Percentage of Scuba Divers are Female?

According to statistics by DEMA, 35% of all newly certified scuba divers are female, while this percentage drops to 23% for higher certification levels. This number has been steadily increasing in recent years and by now, about 40-50% of all our Open Water Diver students at Social Diving are women.

This percentage also largely depends on demographic factors and from my own experience as a dive instructor, there are many more female scuba divers in Germany than in other countries around the world.

Underwater photographer scuba diving under boat.
35% of all divers are female, but the number is rising.

Are Women Better Scuba Divers than Men?

No, women and men are equally as good at scuba diving. Women tend to have better air management than men and use less air while scuba diving, mostly because they breathe less and their lung capacity is often smaller.
Women often reach good buoyancy faster than their male counterparts, however, with experience, this effect is often reversed.

These are my own observations from working and diving with thousands of divers around the world, as well as those of other dive instructors and professionals. While not technically better than men, women often have a different style while scuba diving.

Although it may sound stereotypical and I cannot (and will not) generalize this statement, in my experience, men tend to have better navigational skills underwater.

Woman diving through bait ball of fish.
Women are not better scuba divers, but different.

Last but not least, men and women observe their environments very differently from each other. Whenever I speak to my fellow divers during the debriefing, it almost feels like we did two separate dives.

This is neither positive, nor negative, but shows the diversity in diving and why we definitely need more women in scuba diving!

Best Websites Dedicated to Women in Scuba Diving

There are many blogs, websites, and other channels dedicated to women in scuba diving. And even if you are a guy, these are worth checking out. The best ones, in my opinion, are:

www.girlsthatscuba.com

Girls that Scuba is a community site for female divers around the world to connect, dive and travel together. They have a large following on social media and are definitely worth checking out.

www.wdhof.org

The Women Divers Hall of Fame recognizes achievements by women in scuba diving. It’s a great site to read up on some remarkable women in scuba diving and their stories.

scubadiverlife.com

Scuba Diver Life is one of the largest scuba diving-related sites out there and entirely female-led. Their focus is not on women in scuba diving but it shows that women definitely make an impact on the diving world.

Famous Women in Scuba Diving

Let’s take a moment to recognize some truly remarkable and famous women in scuba diving and how they have shaped the world of diving in their own way.

Naturally, writing about all they have done would require an article of its own for each person, so this is just to give you some inspiration.

When reading up on famous women in scuba diving, it is interesting that a few of them were unfortunately overshadowed by their husbands or male dive partners (think of Cousteau or Hass), albeit achieving great things on their own.

Dr. Sylvia Earle

Dr. Sylvia Earle is a world-renowned marine biologist, scuba diver, and holder of several diving records.

Among them is the deepest walk on the seafloor. She is a National Geographic Society Explorer and just the list of her honors and accomplishments is longer than most people’s entire resume.

Dr. Sylvia Earle scuba diving in the 1990s.

Truly an icon among marine biologists and scientists of any field, Dr. Sylvia Earle should be a name to be recognized among the likes of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Hans Hass, or Eugene Clark.

Here is one of my favorite diving quotes by her:

Why is it that scuba divers and surfers are some of the strongest advocates of ocean conservation? Because they’ve spent time in and around the ocean, and they’ve personally seen the beauty, the fragility, and even the degradation of our planet’s blue heart.

Dr. Sylvia Earle

Dottie Frazier

While not nearly as famous as some of the other names out there, Dottie Frazier was truly a pioneer of scuba diving.

Thought to be the first female scuba diving instructor in the world, and subsequently the first scuba diving shop owner, as well. Mind you, this was in 1955, at a time when the sport of scuba diving was still in its infancy and almost entirely dominated by men.

She was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame in 2000.

Frazier passed away in February 2022, and the New York Times dedicated a featured article to her life accomplishments.

Valerie Taylor

Born in 1935 in Sydney, Australia, Valerie Taylor is arguably best known for her role in the movie Jaws.

What’s often forgotten, however, are her tremendous achievements as a conservationist, filmmaker, and underwater photographer. Did you know, for example, that she was the first person to film a great white shark (without a cage) in the open sea?

She and her husband together also documented and recorded the Great Barrier Reef, diving its entire length in the process. To put this into perspective, that’s 2,300 km (1,400 mi) of diving.

Dr. Eugenie Clark

Also known as the “Shark Lady” Dr. Eugenie Clark was another world-famous scuba diver and marine biologist.

She wrote two books and 175(!) articles on sharks and conservation throughout her career spanning nearly 70 years. Her list of honors and accolades is worth reading and she did her last scuba dive aged 92!

Dr. Eugenie Clark

How cool is that?

Female Diving Records

Let’s look at a collection of the best female (scuba) diving records.

Deepest scuba dive by a woman

The deepest scuba dive by a woman was 236.04 meters, achieved by Karen van den Oever in 2021 in South Africa.

Longest open saltwater scuba dive by a woman

The longest open saltwater scuba dive by a woman was 51 hrs and 25 minutes long, achieved by Cristi Quill in 2015 in the United States.

Deepest Freedive by a woman (no limit)

The deepest freedive by a woman was 160 meters, achieved by Tanya Streeter in 2002 in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Why Women are Great Dive Buddies

Last but not least, I would like to give you a few reasons why women are great dive buddies, and I personally always enjoy diving with them.

No stereotypes, just observations…take them with a little wink. 😉

  • Always on time
  • Their diving gear is always prepared well in advance
  • More safety concious than guys
  • Diving bad always tidily packed
  • They never “forget” dirty socks in a bag for weeks
  • Great environmental awareness underwater
  • Less lead weights to carry

There are probably even more advantages than I listed here. However, these are some of my favorites why you should have girls in your diving group!

Mixed diving groups are the most fun!

If you are still looking for a dive buddy, check out these 7 ways to find a dive buddy.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article gave you a little inspiration on women and scuba diving. It shows that our sport is becoming more diverse every year and people recognize the achievements of both men and women.

Do you know some inspirational women in scuba diving? Let us hear about them in the comments!

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Always dive with friends and happy bubbles. 😃

Cheers

Julius

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