General Question

Finley's avatar

What is the navy like for women?

Asked by Finley (822 points ) February 10th, 2010

I like the idea of the navy. What is it like for women on terms of men vs. women ratio, training, travel, months out to sea vs week at a time, safety, entertainment?

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15 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

You’re going to be a minority of course. A considerable amount of men will just try to get in your pants. Don’t turn into a slut or no one will take you seriously, just concentrate on your job and everything should be fine. Some will take it easy on you (to get in your pants), and some will be hard on you because you’re a woman and think women should do the same workload as men (which is true).

Finley's avatar

But how long would I be on board? I’ve been reading stories of actual women and they all said that they were only sailing for a weeks time.. I want to be out for the long haul (months at a time). Again, though, what’s training like?

Trillian's avatar

@Finley that’s going to depend on your rating. You have to make it through bootcamp, then get a rating. You can go to an A school or take training, I forget what it’s called and then you can strike for a rating. Then you have to get orders aboard ship. Then it will depend on what type of ship you get, if you get one. There are really not many billets for females onboard a ship due to the dang logistics. if you really want to get ship duty, try to be Bosun’s mate, or Damage Control-man. Tough stuff to do, but you’d have a better shot at getting assigned to a ship.
I guess.
i was a corpsman and never saw shipboard duty. I rotated overseas instead.

jerv's avatar

The only real chances a woman has to hit the fleet and stay on the boat for more than a short exercise is to be an officer or part of Air Wing. You might luck out and get attached to a supply ship, but your chances of hitting a “real” ship are fairly slim, at least as part of ship’s company.

My second boat was an aircraft carrier and despite having a crew of thousands, I think I can count the number of females that were part of ship’s company on one hand, and all but one were commissioned. On deployment, the only females on board were not part of our crew, and never lived on the ship except for the six months of our deployment. The only female enlisted people I ever saw on board a ship that were not in aviation were HMs (Corpman) and two reservists (one IC (Interior Communications electrician) and one EN (Engineman)) doing their “two weeks a year”. And my first ship with a crew of >600 had zero females, and the ~1500 Marines attached to us during deployment only had four female pilots. Aside from that, it was a total sausage-fest.

Training depends. Boot Camp is easy, and most non-Nuclear schools are almost a joke as far as I’m concerned. Maybe they are actually hard for some people, but the school I went to (part of the Nuclear Propulsion field) was the only one that used essay tests instead of multiple choice and they covered more material in less time. I’d wager that if I went to a “conventional” school, I could’ve aced it even if I slept through half the classes. If you have an IQ higher than a garden vegetable, chances are that you will find Navy schools to be pretty simple too.

jerv's avatar

Entertainment is what you make or bring. Ships have a movie channel (sometimes more than one) but game consoles, books, VCRs/DVDs, cards, and sleep are more common. Engineering is especially prone to sleep when they can grab it underway. Personally, I did a bit of creative writing, some gaming, a lot of smoking, and averaged about 4 hours sleep a night (often not in a row) and one meal a day since, between working, watch, drills, and such, there wasn’t much time for entertainment except on Sundays (8 hour workday instead of 12, though I still had watch).

Of course, you likely won’t go into Engineering so you may actually have to worry about entertainment. And like I said, it’s pretty much whatever you bring, and considering how much storage space you will have, whatever hobby you have will have to fit into a seabag, minus whatever room your civilian clothes take up. And it it requires a power adapter/cahrger (like a laptop or a gaming console) then there are special rules for that; say high to the guys in Electrical Safety.

I also recommend learning to play cards and/or Dominos in case you want to do something non-solitary.

YARNLADY's avatar

Ask your recruiter for some personal stories. Look at a website for former female naval personnel.

ratboy's avatar

Sailors love to ride the Waves.

jerv's avatar

@ratboy No, not really. Believe me, it gets old quick. And the Bubbleheads don’t even get to see the waves since they spend most of their time in a tin can a few hundred feet below them.

Don’t get me wrong; the Navy has it’s fun times, but none of that fun actually happens on the boat…. unless you are into hazing. They really frown on that now, but when I was in, you would occasionally see somebody duct-taped or hog-tied somewhere. They had to use a chain hoist to hang one of my large buddies from the overhead by his ankles. And (of course) plenty of duct tape to keep him from letting himself down.

Seeing a sunset on the ocean with no land for hundreds of miles is a beautiful thing, as is being able to see more stars than you ever did before due to a lack of light pollution. But after a couple of years, the novelty usually wears off.

jerv's avatar

Not so much, really. In fact, quite the opposite usually, unless you go out of your way to be anti-social. Finding/making friends is pretty easy. It’s finding time alone that is hard.

Then again, there usually aren’t enough females to make them share a berthing with 300–400 other people, though they will still be stacked three-high unless they are officers and thus entitled to their own stateroom.

jerv's avatar

@ratboy Oh. I forgot about those Waves since they were well before my time.

AshleyMarie's avatar

Being a women in the Navy can be both empowering and professionally rewarding. There are numerous opportunities available to you so info on career training, travel, etc. are dependent on the career path you are interested in. Try visiting http://navy.com/women to see stories of women in the Navy or chat with female sailors on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/womenredefinednavy. Hope this helps!

jerv's avatar

One thing to take note of is the disconnect between the ads and reality. I can’t help but notice that most of the Navy ads show aircrew doing fun stuff on the flight deck or Ops geeks in nicely pressed Smurf Suits doing techy stuff, but you never see Engineering with their filthy coveralls and 5-o-clock shadows doing their thing.

Truth is that the Navy is really diverse. And a lot of how well you like it will depend on which rating you choose. Had I known then what I know now, I would’ve declined Nuke (and the accelerated advancement that goes with it) and gone MR (Machinery Repairman) since that is the type of work I am better at and like more. (I am a machinist, and the MM (Machinists Mate) rating in the Navy is something completely different. MR is closer to what I did before and do now.) As it stands, I was a “wire-biter” (EM; Electricians Mate) and thus didn’t enjoy my Navy time quite as much since E-div really wasn’t where I wanted to be.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s actually a decent gig overall. However, you are going to want to hear from real people as opposed to just the shining stars that serve as official spokepeople. I think that chatting with actual female sailors as @AshleyMarie suggests might serve you better than reading the glitzy PR releases or listening to some men who served in areas where you just don’t see many women (Engineering, sub service, etcetera).

Finley's avatar

@AshleyMarie wow the facebook site really helps!

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