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Why aren’t there more women divers?



In her debut article for Scubaverse, Pro Dive Mexico‘s resident PADI Course Director Jo Armitage asks why there are more men that women in the world of diving.

The 18th July 2015 was the first annual PADI Women’s Dive Day, part of the Women in Diving campaign aimed at increasing the percentage of female divers. Currently, statistics show that around 35% of PADI certifications are earned by women, which is simply not good enough; there’s no reason why the ratio of male to female dives cannot be (eventually) 50%-50%.

I have never thought that scuba diving was a predominantly male past time but when I think about it, my introduction to diving had a good share of female roles. Firstly, it was my lawyer boss who recommended I contact her dive club in Leeds to take the Open Water Course. My friend Anne and I then signed up and as far as I recall we were the only women in our group (although we had a good share of female Divemasters and Instructors teaching us).

Historically, scuba diving as a hobby was very male-dominated, with the first divers coming from the Navy and  I guess that image stuck for a while. Women weren’t particularly excluded from the sport, although the early promoters didn’t focus attention on attracting female divers and there was no attempt to actively include women.  Diving was seen as a daring, adventurous activity, and that was something that women shouldn’t really be doing –  Adventure is for boys!

Things have certainly changed, particularly gender stereotypes. Girls and women are just as likely to be looking for excitement, adventure and traveling the world as the guys are.  From a marketing perspective, scuba diving is promoted as a fun, healthy activity which is easy to get involved in at any age, and any gender.

For some, like my mum, you’re never too old to start…

The first time my mum tried scuba was at the age of 70 when I taught my parents to dive in the Philippines when they came to visit. I won’t go into detail about that (you’ll have to read the blog I wrote at the time here) but it was a fun, if somewhat challenging experience! Apart from a refresher dive over a year ago they have not been diving since.  As my mum was here in Playa del Carmen for a few days recently, and knowing that Women’s Dive Day was coming up, I decided it would be a great opportunity to get my mum diving again.

The great thing about living in this part of Mexico is that we have the fresh-water cenotes.  Some of them are caverns and caves (obviously not suitable for me and my mum), whilst others are calm bodies of open water perfect for a 73 year-old PADI Scuba Diver. So last week the whole family had a day out at one such cenote.  With the summer temperatures soaring, the cool, fresh water was very welcome!  Angel played around in the water with the kids, whilst I did a few skills with mum to “freshen up” then went for a dive which (to my surprise!) went very smoothly.  My mum got to experience her first fresh water dive, accompanied for the most part by Marc who was free-diving down to say hello to us. I’m even looking forward to the prospect of diving with my mum and dad again next time they are here!

This mother/daughter diving got me thinking about how women view the activity of scuba diving in relation to gender.

I asked my mum about her own perception of scuba diving.  Like many of her generation, she was brought up on Jacques Cousteau films on TV and over the years got to know people who dived.  “I didn’t see diving as male dominated as three out of five divers I knew were women,” she told me.  “Before I tried diving I thought it was complicated getting ready – and it is!  But it’s worth it.”

She goes swimming during the week to the early morning “granny shift” at her local pool and as her fellow swimmers are predominantly women I wondered what they thought about her taking up scuba diving late in life. “They are impressed – but only because of my age. Like the dog who can walk on two legs, folks are impressed because he does it at all not because he does it well!”

Slowly and surely, more women are taking up scuba diving, but there’s still a long way to go until – as far as numbers are concerned –  the women divers equal the men. Hopefully the Women’s Dive Day, and the various events taking place around the world to promote it, can help to persuade women – young and old – to give it a try or get back under water.

Jo and her team at Pro Dive Mexico provide high quality training to Divemasters and Instructors together with a career development program to prepare dive professionals for employment in the dive industry. To find out more, visit

To read more of Jo’s blogs, visit

Jo is a PADI Course Director and GoPro Coordinator at PADI 5-star Career Development Centre Pro Dive Mexico Scuba Academy in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

Dive Training Blogs

Dream Dive Locker Build Out Part II: Blank Slate (Watch Video)



I owe you all an update on the dream dive locker build out! We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to build my dream dive locker/scuba classroom/office. In this installment, I’m going to answer your questions and comments from the first video in this series.

Scuba diving is my passion and to have a dedicated space for all my dive gear, as well as a hang out spot for my students, is a dream come true.

Let me know your color choice! 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5!

Thanks for watching!



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Miscellaneous Blogs

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Stephan Whelan



Next in a new series of podcasts shared by our friends Gemma and Ian aka The BiG Scuba Podcast…

Ian and Gemma chat to Stephan Whelan.  Stephan is the Founder and Publisher of His passion for the underwater world started at 8 years-old with a try-dive in a hotel pool on holiday that soon formulated into a lifelong love affair with the oceans and led him to become one of the leading figures in the diving media industry.

Stephan got bitten by the diving bug early in life. His first scuba experience was a try-dive when he was eight years old on a family holiday in Europe, and from that moment, he was addicted. He learned to dive properly with BSAC (British Sub Aqua Club) as soon as he could at school and then did his BSAC Assistant Instructor when he turned 16. By the time he was heading to university in 1996, he was hooked on teaching and diving as much as he could.

By the time he started studying at university, he decided to have a go at flexing his web-design skills by publishing some of the stories he had built up about various ‘challenging’ students and dives he had encountered, and so (as it was known then) was created. He published numerous personal stories until 1998 when other writers began enquiring about contributing to the site with their tales, and it was at this moment he decided to make it more like a magazine format and began asking for volunteer helpers. He got a couple of editors on board, and plenty of writers began contributing. (or DB as it’s become to be known) is now one of the most-popular diving websites in the world and has grown to publish over 9,000 articles covering all sorts of topics like Freediving, Scuba Diving, Ocean Advocacy, and Diving Travel all the while keeping over half-a-million passionate divers from the diving community connected every month through the forums, large social media following, mobile app, and recently launched podcast.








Find more podcast episodes and information at and on most social platforms @thebigscuba 

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