Anchoring Equality: Shahsirehka's voyage as a female harbour pilot

08 Mar 2024 12:48pm
Harbour Pilot in NorthPort Shahsirehka S Maniarasu (Photo by Rafiq Redzuan)
Harbour Pilot in NorthPort Shahsirehka S Maniarasu (Photo by Rafiq Redzuan)

SHAH ALAM - In a remarkable feat challenging gender norms in the maritime industry, Shahsirehka S Maniarasu ventures into working as harbour pilot, breaking barriers in a traditionally male-dominated profession.

With her recent appointment, she's not just navigating ships but also charting a new course for women in maritime careers.

Shahsirehka's journey into this historically male-dominated field began at the Akademi Laut Malaysia (ALAM), where she pursued nautical studies.

Reflecting on her experience, she said she don't feel awkward working in a male-dominated industry at all but determined to make her mark.

"I don't feel weird working in a male-dominated industry since I studied in ALAM with almost 90 per cent of them being males," she said in an exclusive interview with Sinar Daily.

Her academic background laid a solid foundation for her subsequent ventures in the maritime world.

What sets Shahsirehka's story apart is her resilience and determination. Despite being the sole applicant for the position of harbour pilot, she seized the opportunity and emerged victorious.

"I am grateful to get this job," she expressed with a sense of accomplishment.

Related Articles:

Transitioning from her previous roles as a seafarer on tankers to a harbour pilot, Shahsirehka notes the stark differences in her work environment and responsibilities.

"Compared to my previous jobs, I used to get on tankers and now on every ship, I would say the exposure of working opportunity is high here, also different ship handling," she said.

Politing the Challenges

Addressing the challenges she faced, Shahsirehka acknowledges the prevailing mindset within the industry.

"One of the challenges I faced was people's mentality on the work and place I studied, since all the places I am in are male-dominated industries," she said.

However, she credits effective communication and perseverance as key strategies in overcoming these obstacles.

"The only way to survive with those mentalities is to communicate well, discuss with the ship master, and people will eventually change their mindset and mentality," she asserts confidently.

Family's Role to her Success

Behind every successful person is a strong support system, and for Shahsirehka, it is her family. Hailing from an Indian background where societal norms often dictate career choices, she is grateful for her family's understanding and encouragement.

"I am lucky to have an understanding and supportive family who did not place barriers on my interest to venture into this job," she acknowledges gratefully.

She said her mother, despite not furthering her studies, has been a pillar of strength, nurturing her daughters' ambitions.

"My mom is not educated but she managed to understand and raise her five daughters, following their interest to pursue their future," she adds.

In addition to her family, she acknowledges the unwavering support of her husband, a marine engineer, who comprehends the demands of her profession.

Shahsirehka also stated that her husband has been her rock, stating that he has been extremely understanding of her role and duties as a harbour pilot and working hours.

"Not to forget my husband, who is a marine engineer, often understands me and my working hours," she said, highlighting the importance of mutual understanding in their relationship.