IMO and WISTA to carry out landmark gender gap study

The Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) will work more closely with shipping’s top regulator, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), to promote greater gender equality in the industry. The two bodies yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to work more closely together to empower women in shipping.

Among key highlights of the agreement the IMO and WISTA International will carry out a joint study to collect and analyse data on the number of women employed in the maritime sector.

Among other key areas of activity outlined in the MoU is a commitment to look for opportunities to partner on maritime issues, which may include organising workshops or speaking on at conferences to make panels more diverse. Second on the agenda is a commitment to promote greater engagement for women in maritime, among their members, the broader ocean business community, ocean stakeholders and the public. A third priority is to develop and participate in relevant training and workshops.

Other areas of collaboration include the creation of a database of female experts on maritime subjects.

The Maritime HR Association’s most recent survey, reporting data last year for more than 25,000 shore-based maritime industry professionals in 94 countries, showed that more than 76% of females working shoreside in shipping have administrative, junior or professional level roles. Very few reach managerial level or above. Just over 10% of those on executive leadership teams are women, with female executives most likely to operate as chief financial officers according to the survey results carried by recruitment firm, Spinnaker Global. This compares poorly with the 29% figure of listed FTSE 100 companies in the UK.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. This is a great opportunity for IMO and WISTA to work together for a more diverse maritime workforce.

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