Vol 68, No 1 (2017)
Original article
Published online: 2017-03-30

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Female professional divers. Similarities and differences between male and female professional divers

Ågot Irgens, Kari Troland, Marit Grønning
Pubmed: 28357838
IMH 2017;68(1):60-67.

Abstract

Background: The aim of the present study was to explore the potential differences between female and male professional divers with regards to demographics, diving certificates, areas of diving, diving activity and health effects.

Materials and methods: The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority’s Diving certificate register contains data on all professional inshore divers who have held a certificate at any time since 1980. Forty nine per cent of these divers responded to the “Norwegian diver 2011” questionnaire.

Results: Of these divers 64 female and 1327 male divers completed the questionnaire about their professional diving career, certificate, year of onset and the year they stopped diving professionally if they were not still active in the diving industry. The level of general education was higher among female divers. More males than females were fully certified in diving. The mean age was lower among female than male fully certified divers. Fully certified female divers reported a lower total number of dives, shallower dives and diving for a shorter period of time than the male divers. They also had a lower percentage of work within the quay/construction sector and more often worked as teachers/instructors. A lower percentage of fully certified females than males had experienced decompression sickness (16.7% vs. 26.9%). Life-threatening events and psychologically challenging events were less common among females, as were adverse health effects. No such gender differences were seen for divers with a restricted certificate.

Conclusions: The fully certified, female professional divers in our study had a very short diving career, reported fewer and shallower dives, and chose less physically demanding jobs than their male counterparts. They also had a higher level of education, reported less health problems and a better quality of life. The health effects seem to be related to the type of work rather than to gender.  

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