Atlantic Arc Cities

Juliette Bidet Bourgain is a Chief Officer aboard Ro-Ro passenger ships.

She studied at the French Merchant Navy School to get her Unlimited Master and Chief Engineer diplomas and at Le Havre University to get a Master in Law of the Sea and Port Activities. She sailed on different types of vessels including Container Ships and Survey Vessels before settling for a position on a passengers’ ship.

When she was young, she knew she was aiming for an operational job. She wanted to work on the sea, both with her hands and with her brain. Therefore becoming a Merchant Navy Officer was quite obvious for her.

As she says “I do love boats! Sailing vessels, big ships…”

After 15 years in the Merchant Navy, Juliette is married and a mum of 2 children. She confirms that it is still hard for her to be a woman on board… And she knows she’s lucky. She said she sails on a French Flag ship, and her income is good but she confesses she still has to fight for everything; she still has to say “No, your sexist jokes don’t make me laugh”.

She would like not to have to prove to his colleagues her muscles, that she can be a good Chief Officer AND a good mum at the same time. She admits to finding it exhausting.

Concerning women, she adds, the same rules are applied ashore and in Maritime Affairs. As she says “gender equality is a dream we all wish will come true one day. But for the time being, she would say that if you are strong enough and if you have the support of your friends and your family you can do and you can become what you want!

For those women who hesitate to work in maritime affairs, she would tell them: “If that’s what you really want, just go for it!”

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