Shipping is a very much male dominated industry. Very seldom do you see females working on board the ship. The woman seafarers make up only 2% of the world’s maritime workforce and are more commonly found on cruise ships and ferries.
Many women do not choose seafaring as their first career choice because of various reasons:
Lack of Support
Traditionally women are expected to be present at home to take care of their family even if they are working mothers. But to become a seafarer, the woman needs to be away from their family for long period of time. Unless family support is evident it will be very difficult for the woman to sail the open seas and to establish their career in maritime.
Discrimination and Harassment
Some countries do not offer maritime education and training to women and some ship owners avoid employing women on their ships. Many woman seafarers may even get lower pay compared to their male counterparts who are doing equivalent work.
The ship is not exactly equipped for women living on board and we’re talking about sanitary and maternity wise. ITF is championing for women’s rights on board and to prioritise a range of issues which are deemed important for women seafarers. Some of the issues include providing sanitary items on board the ships, improved rights to maternity benefits, putting in place sexual harassment policy and proper education against gender stereotypes in the maritime industry.
With the prediction that there could be a shortfall of about 40,000 officers in the coming decades, it will be beneficial for the maritime industry if more women seafarers join the maritime workforce.