Erika Bergman: She’s Exploring the Life Aquatic

April 5 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Oceans of Serenity

Titanic and Gilligan’s Island pretty much entirely formed my opinions of the ocean when I was younger. So, basically, stories of the ocean are either super steamy and end tragically, or they’re a real salty hoot. But when I saw the ocean for the first time and got up close and personal with those ebbing waves, I sensed the serenity it can bring.

Stepping onto the beach and feeling the sand beneath your toes can be one of the most transcendent experiences, instantly transporting you to a peaceful state of mind. If you are close to the ocean, lucky you. Go for a visit today. Delve into the ocean up to your knees or your hips or your nose, and welcome all of its healing, restorative and briny qualities.


Ladies, did you know that there are more than 50 career specifications in the oceanic industry? And there are some pretty dang smart women making waves in these jobs. Take Sylvia Earle, for instance. She’s an American marine biologist and oceanic explorer who makes the ocean come alive for others through her many lectures and writings. This seafaring adventurer was also the first female chief scientist at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And in 1998, Time magazine exultingly referred to her as the first Hero for the Planet. Sylvia Earle serves as a wonderful example that women can break down barriers on land and sea.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Erika Bergman, Submarine Pilot and Co-founder of Global Engineering and Exploration Counselors

Today, we’re featuring another unstoppable ocean-loving lady: Erika Bergman. Erika is a real-life submarine pilot with some serious under-the-sea credibility.

Erika is one of those remarkable women proving that traditionally male-dominated fields only become better and stronger with the addition of smart ladies. And she’s definitely held her fair share of rough-and-tumble jobs, from steamship firewoman to submarine and submersibles pilot to diesel engineer.

Her ocean-sized passion isn’t simply sated by exploring the great blue ocean though. She’s also driven by a desire to encourage others to do the same, especially young girls. That’s why she co-founded a totally cool organization called Global Engineering and Exploration Counselors, or GEECs, which helps girls enroll in engineering camps and obtain mentorship. By inspiring young female explorers, Erika hopes to close the gender gap when it comes to technology and marine life.

A key offering of GEECs is its Girls Underwater Robot Camp, touted as Space Camp for the other 99 percent of the earth’s habitable space. The entire goal of the camp is to immerse 13- to 17-year-old girls into engineering and exploration. By working as a team and learning to use hand tools, solder microelectronics and innovate in the world of marine technology, girls build a robot that—you guessed it—operates underwater. The camp offers girls a 360-degree perspective on what it’s like to work in an oceanic field by guiding them to create and then witness their own amazing innovations. They're also shown how to utilize social media and filmmaking in order to best document their experiences.

As a National Geographic Young Explorer recipient, Erika focuses all her work efforts on three key aspects close to her heart: mechanics, the ocean and community outreach. Erika’s advice for doing what you love and being really good at it is simple: be unafraid of new things. And that makes a lot of sense, especially in the realm of ocean exploration. After all, the more girls who get on board, the sooner we’ll all learn even more about the world’s many wonders hidden beneath the waves.


Erika Bergman would no doubt agree with poet Ralph Waldo Emerson’s inspiring take on naturalism. He said:

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

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