Ahoy there, ladies – got a place on board for a bloke who has been hounded by the harpies?

A good place for studying productivity and gender disparities.

Mrs Grumble has some great advice for the beleaguered Alasdair Thompson, who looks likely soon to have nothing much to do except think about how to say things without inviting the wrath of the nation’s harpies.

He should take a cruise.

Not just any cruise.

He should take a cruise on the Pacific Pearl.

The ship has a sheila at the helm – or rather, a sheila as skipper who will order whoever is at the helm which way to turn.

Does this make her the ship’s master – or its mistress?

Just how soon Alasdair can take the cruise is a matter of conjecture this morning (although we can be sure he has a pretty good idea of what’s up).

The Employers and Manufacturers’ Association (EMA) has refused to confirm reports that he will resign today.

The association met this morning to discuss a way through the “crisis” resulting from Mr Thompson’s controversial comments last week that women were paid less because they took sick days when they had their period.

EMA communications manager Gilbert Peterson said he could not confirm the reports that Mr Thompson was going to resign but said the association met this morning to discuss how the EMA was going to continue to function.

You can call Alf unduly suspicious, if you like, but why would the EMA want to discuss how it is going to continue to function if it was business as usual for Alasdair and his association?

Never mind. If they throw him overboard – or if he opts to walk the plank – Mrs Grumble thinks it would be instructive for Alasdair to take a holiday and put his comfort and safety in the hands of a female skipper and her crew, which happens to include plenty of other muliebral mariners.

Her promotion is told in the Herald today –

Captain Sarah Breton has been appointed Australasia’s first female cruise-ship skipper, one of only three women with such a role on major cruise ships anywhere in the world.

She is joined by three other senior female officers – hotel manager Jane Herron, cruise director Zoltina-J Medwick-Daley and administration and revenue director Martina Damonte.

They left Auckland yesterday as the senior officers on a 32-night South Pacific cruise.

After a brief handover period, Captain Breton will officially take the ship’s helm on July 12.

Alf was by no means surprised to learn that the company which is running the show has a sheila in charge, too.

Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, which operates
P&O Cruises Australia, says the new captain has earned her position.

“It takes time to build up the necessary experience so rising to this position takes many years – there are no shortcuts.”

Ms Herron, who has been in the industry for 23 years, said it was great that four senior female officers could be found on one cruise ship.

“I’ve always said I’m a woman in a man’s world. Now it’s kind of become more of a woman’s world it’s amazing.”

Dunno what would happen to the ship’s command structure if that unmentionable once-a-month thing happened to smite all of the female officers at the same time.

Alasdair can be relied upon to report back on this, if he takes Mrs Grumble’s advice and then takes a cruise. He’s a great one for gathering empirical evidence to support his assertions.

Much more important, he will be well placed to observe whether a bunch of nautical sheilas can do what they claim they can do, which is anything a bloke can do.

Ms Medwick-Daley was proud to be part of the rare group.

“It’s always been a boys’ club and to an extent it still is,” she says.

“So when you have this many women in senior ranks on the ship, it really is a big coup for women in general and all over the world.

“It’s not a man’s world any more and this proves it.”

Obviously these sheilas are thoroughly capable of putting Alasdair in his place – somewhere in steerage, perhaps, if they have heard of his recent exploits as boss of the EMA.

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