No steering her away from career choice

Captain Dorothy Sim is a Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore scholarship holder with a love for the open sea.
Captain Dorothy Sim is a Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore scholarship holder with a love for the open sea.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

At the tender age of 17, to the surprise of her peers and the horror of her parents, Captain Dorothy Sim went off to sea and never looked back.

Shipping had never previously crossed her mind as a career until a half-day Singapore Maritime Academy placement gave her a taste for the open sea. Now a full-fledged captain, the 27-year-old said she has seen night rainbows across the Pacific Ocean and watched a school of dolphins migrating past the Equator.

A Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore scholarship holder, she returned to shore in February as part of her scholarship to serve in vessel traffic management, but said she still misses the sea, which she sailed for five years.

 
 

Often the only woman on board, she faced opposition from time to time - whether from her parents, who were "strongly against" her chosen path at first - or from male colleagues who would subtly use her gender to cast aspersions on her ability to perform.

  • SEAFARING SALARIES

  • Starting pay for a maritime officer: $3,500

    Starting pay for a ship engineer: $3,800

    Pay range for a ship engineer: $3,800 - $10,000

    Pay range for a ship captain: $9,800- $28,000

Capt Sim shrugged such behaviour off. "I spent a lot of time trying to prove myself at first, but then I just stopped. If you can work, they will respect you. The work will speak for itself."

Olivia Ho

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2015, with the headline 'No steering her away from career choice'. Print Edition | Subscribe