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The dark side of yachting

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Apr 17, 2023 by Gemma Harris

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Positions of power

The leadership cultivates the culture; if there is toxicity on board, a crew member in a position of power is allowing it. As in other industries, abuse of power is not a new issue, and it clearly plays into scenarios of sexual harassment and abuse.


“As probably in many other situations, it [sexual harassment] is an abuse of power,” said Wallace. And Watkins echoed that statement. “We see a lot that it [sexual harassment] is often because of an abuse of power” he said.


Capt. Kelly Gordon explained: “It seems as if some captains and HODs [heads of department] think that their position provides them with a sense of power that they often abuse. I have seen higher ranks use their position to make unwelcome sexual advances, and sadly, the crew member rarely speaks up for fear of being fired. I have witnessed HODs be downright mean to those they are in charge of.”


Capt. Gordon is challenging industry trends. She of the Sea, an organization advocating for gender equality and diversity, found that only one in four women in yachting occupy a senior position. This gender inequality plays an important role in the problem. For example, it isn’t uncommon for job roles to be advertised as gender-specific, with the subordinate roles generally being “female only.” While more women in leadership roles won’t eliminate the problem, it would help to create more significant gender equity, altering male domination within the industry. . .




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