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Women Divers Hall of Fame Honored as Beneath the Sea's 2019 Legend of the Sea

WDHOF members reflect on the group's accomplishments
By Scuba Diving staff | Published On March 21, 2019
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Women Divers Hall of Fame Honored as Beneath the Sea's 2019 Legend of the Sea

Women Divers Hall of Fame

The Women Divers Hall of Fame will be honored at the Beneath the Sea Show in Secaucus, New Jersey, March 29-31.

Courtesy Beneath the Sea

The Women Divers Hall of Fame has recognized more than 200 pioneers from 18 countries worldwide for their contributions to the dive industry — now, it’s time for the WDHOF to get its shine. The organization is the 2019 Legend of the Sea, and it will be honored at the Beneath the Sea Show in Secaucus, New Jersey. Mary Connelly, president of WDHOF; Bobbie Scholley, chairman of the board; Bonnie Toth, treasurer; and Robin Parish, vice president, took the time to reflect on this recognition.

Q: What is the mission of the WDHOF?
A: The mission is two-part: One, to recognize women divers who have made outstanding contributions to the exploration, understanding, safety and enjoyment of our underwater world. And, two, to support the underwater world and its associated careers by promoting opportunities for women and men in diving through scholarships, internships and mentorship opportunities and a worldwide network of industry contacts.

Q: Why is it important to highlight the work of these women in the scuba diving industry?
A: Women are still more hesitant to try scuba diving than men. There are still many factors that can discourage a woman from pursuing her initial dive certification, or a career in a field that requires the ability to dive. By sharing these stories, women of every age can be inspired to find a way to help preserve and make a positive difference in our ocean world. Hopefully, by highlighting our members’ stories, WDHOF presents a path to some area related to diving they can feel passionately about, and be encouraged knowing other women have gone before them and have succeeded. Another important reason to highlight the work of these women is because they do not rest on their laurels once inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame. We are proud to be giving back and paying it forward by sponsoring the largest scholarship and training grant program in the country focused on diving.

Q: Do you think the pioneering women in the dive industry get due credit? If not, how can that change?
A: Some do, not all. Sylvia Earle, Genie Clark and Zale Parry are inaugural members and readily identified and credited for their pioneering work. Still there are so many other committed women who have also contributed in significant ways but had not received the recognition. That is why the Women Divers Hall of Fame is an important resource for the diving community. It has helped to bring the stories of these amazing women to the forefront. Even when WDHOF was first started, it was considered a girl’s club. By putting an emphasis on the members’ stories, we have helped to share them with the public and build an awareness of their contributions.

Q: What does it mean for the WDHOF to be honored by Beneath the Sea?
A: It means the world! We are so proud, as an organization, to be recognized for our accomplishments with this amazing group of sea sisters. We always look forward to Beneath the Sea as a homecoming and place to welcome our new class of sea sisters. This year the celebration will be especially sweet.

The Beneath the Sea expo will be held March 29-31 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey.