Female divers and male divers seem to view the world a little differently. Many male divers feel that the experience must be intense in order to “count” for something. For example, they may state that it is not a dive unless it has a strong current involved or unless a dangerous sea creature makes an appearance. Men tell stories to impress but seem to forget that a regular dive is also a valuable experience. A dive does not have to be dangerous in order to be exciting. Mandy Shackleton, who works as a marine scientist at Hull University, released a research study several years ago and included her reasoning behind why women are better at diving than men. Are her findings valid? Is it true that women excel in this area, and why is that the case?
Men are typically thrill-seekers. They are interested in finding something new and exciting while diving, so their bodies give off more adrenaline, testosterone, and cortisol during the experience. As a result, they may engage in riskier behaviors. This same concept applies to driving; Dr. Magnus Johnson, a professor at Hull University, believes men may engage in riskier driving in front of a female companion in order to look good to her. Women, however, are different and are more cautious while driving.
Women pick up on non-verbal cues and are able to use what they see to help determine what they should do. Because divers cannot use their words to convey meaning, non-verbal communication is essential under the water. Women, therefore, seem to have a natural advantage in this area, something that both Nancy Briton and Nigel Forman discussed in their research. As a result of this, women seem to be more efficient divers and are able to deal with any changes as they arise.
According to Michael Messner, who works for the University of Southern California, men typically have less body fat than women. Therefore, women have more natural buoyancy, something that can be corrected with additional weights. It does give women several advantages in the water, however. They don’t expend as much energy, and they stay warm even when the water is very cold.
Women are more adept at using their legs than men. Male drivers tend to focus on using their upper body to help them in the water, while women are able to tap into their lower-body strength. Richard Hinrichs and Scott Mclean determined that when a man and a women swim the same distance, the man usually kicks more. Women, therefore, are more efficient than men in the water, particularly when using fins that help them go longer distances with fewer kicks. They also take in less air because they are not working as hard. Along these same lines, women’s lungs are smaller. For this reason, they also don’t use as much air as men, even when not in the water. Therefore, their dives are able to last longer and they tend to have more air available for longer periods of time.
Women look at the whole rather than the parts. This means that their spatial awareness skills are strong, which helps them in the water. Taking into account everything else mentioned above as well, women, therefore, do not disturb coral as much as male divers.
When you go diving, watch your friends closely. Do you notice a difference in how men dive versus how women dive? Who do you think are the more efficient divers? Regardless of your observations, we can all improve from one another, so it is always a good idea to watch and be open to tweaking your diving style.