Inaugural International Day for Women in Maritime gets underway

Today marks the International Maritime Organization’s inaugural International Day for Women in Maritime. Focusing on the theme of training, visibility, recognition and supporting a barrier-free working environment, the idea of the day is to provide a platform to highlight and celebrate the achievements of women in maritime and identify areas of improvement for gender balance.

The IMO partnered with the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) to produce an in-depth women in maritime survey, results of which have been published today.

The data demonstrates that women account for only 29% of the overall workforce in the general industry and 20% of the workforce of national maritime authorities in member states. Women make up just 28% of the board member seats of the more than 5,000 organisations surveyed (see charts below).

Industry data shows that women seafarers make up just 2% of the crewing workforce and are predominately found in the cruise sector, while in shipowning companies they made up 34% of the workforce.

WISTA International president Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou said, “The knowledge we have gathered about gender diversity in the maritime industry through this first Women in Maritime Survey 2021 is an important step in our ambition to create holistic gender diversity. As a first snapshot, this survey gives telling evidence of how much work still needs to be done.”

IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim said: “There is still a gender imbalance in maritime – but times are changing. It is recognised that diversity in maritime benefits the entire sector.”

Commenting on today’s theme, Teresa Peacock, managing director, executive search at maritime people experts Spinnaker, advised the maritime industry on breaking down barriers to equal pay, giving women the recognition they deserve and ensuring maternity leave is not a barrier to career success.

Spinnaker data shows the salary gap in shipping is approximately 40%.

“There are actionable steps that companies can and must take to bridge the pay gap and give female employees the recognition they deserve,” Peacock said.

For example, she advised improving salary transparency in job adverts by advertising salary bands.

“Another cause of pay disparity is maternity leave; improving support, providing extra training when women return to the workplace and offering greater part-time work-from-home flexibility enabling earlier returns can help to keep them in their roles and achieve long-term pay parity with their male counterparts,” Peacock added.

The Mission to Seafarers charity also published a report today called Beyond the 2%, Women Seafarers and their Lives at Sea: Reflecting on Our Call to Care. The report is intended to act as a discussion document for the charity and other maritime welfare providers. It considers the unique challenges faced by women at sea and how organisations can tailor their support to contribute towards a better future for female seafarers.

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.
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