Woman at Sea

  “I hope the fathers and mothers of little girls will look at them and say ‘yes, women can’.”  

-Dilma Roussete



  Women make up only an estimated 2% of the world’s maritime workforce. Seeing that not many women go in this kind of workforce, there is a very special person here at the R/V Endeavor working as a Marine Technician (being the 1st female to do so) for 19 years and counting!. She drives forklifts (looks really admirable driving it), receives shipment, loads the ship, emails scientists making sure the ship is ready for the research they will be conducting, and at the end of the transit she compiles all the data recorded in the flash drive and hands it to the scientist. Basically all that has to do with cruise planning.

She is called Lynne Butler, born in New Jersey but moving when she was 3 to California she has been all over, living in Long Beach, San Diego, San Jose and Santa Barbara. Settling in Rhode Island almost 19 years ago she lives with cats and a partner. Starting at UC San Diego and finishing in UC Santa Barbara majoring in Aquatic Biology and a minor in Anthropology, she took 6 years off to make money (because college is expensive), having a variety of jobs.

     After graduating she started working at NOAA as an observer on fishing boats and got invited as an assistant to research scientific trips from 4 to 6 trips and eventually got a job. She worked at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego being the 2nd woman research technician. In 1998, she traveled the Pacific Ocean on a ship going to Panama, Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Galapagos Island for 5 months and a half doing a mammal survey as an oceanographer doing CTD’s, phytoplankton net, processing samples, checking chlorophyll and many more things. As you can read, Lynne is such an interesting person, she has traveled a lot at sea, she is really nice and she will explain to you any data that shows up in the computers like really weird graphs or a lot of numbers in Excel.

“Be persistent, don’t get intimidated, don’t get discouraged, things will go wrong and you just have to kind of get through it, get past things” was one of the wise words Lynne Butler said to me because there is still a lot of discrimination for women going into the maritime workforce or even studying Geology, Marine Biology, etc.  

     This interview was a total success, I want to thank you Lynne, for separating a little bit of her time for me of her long schedule. Right now I am majoring in Geology at the University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez and there are not many women, as Lynne was explaining, in the field, I am so lucky to be having this opportunity at STEMSeas, if you ever have the chance, come explore the sea with many awesome scientists. You will have fun!

By: Adriana Nieves Pena


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