Shipping minister challenges maritime industry to do more to attract women to sector

11 September 2017

Former shipping minister John Hayes gave a keynote address to a conference held by Women in Shipping and Trading (WISTA) as part of London International Shipping Week (LISW 2017).

He said that the industry needs to change – not only through adopting technological advances, but also ensuring that the gender balance improves.

'The industry needs to grow and alter,' he said. Women make up only 2% of the industry and in the UK of our 14,000 certified officers, only 3% are female, and in professional and technical jobs only 4% are female.

'This means that there are talented women out there who are missing out on a maritime career and may not be maximising their potential. It also means that there is a huge amount of untapped talent which the maritime industry is missing out on. I am determined that we can and must do more.'

Mr Hayes called on maritime shipping companies, organisations and maritime training providers to do more to redress the gender balance in the industry. He added that 2018 is the year of the engineer and called on the industry to take the opportunity to highlight the benefits of the sector to young people, especially females.

Nautilus International's head of strategic campaigning Debbie Cavaldoro also spoke at the event on the subject of how changing technology within the maritime industry will affect jobs and careers, especially those of women.

Mrs Cavaldoro said that the rise of automation on ships could have a very positive effect on opportunities for women, as it could remove many of the physical constraints of life at sea.

Further down the line, as more at sea jobs are moved ashore then the industry could open up to women even more as bridge management becomes an office job, opening it up to legislation covering maternity leave, health and safety and working hours. It could even become a nine to five job. Nautilus head of strategic campaigning, Debbie Cavaldoro

She added that the industry needs to act now to ensure that training needs of the future are met by maritime training organisations, and that the opportunity isn't missed to ensure that more women see the industry as an attractive proposition.