Women in Maritime – summary of the research

We present a summary of the report on the careers of women working in the maritime industry. The aim of the research conducted by Monika Popow PhD was to obtain information on the determinants of women’s work in the maritime industry, as well as the specifics of their career.

What supports women in the maritime industry? Recommendations for the future

Summing up the study, it can be stated that the maritime industry still remains an area that is not entirely favorable to women. Despite this, the vast majority of respondents described this experience as one of a kind, unique and developing. What makes them so in their understanding is the very fact of working in a profession compatible with their interests. Despite the difficulties, the subjects are satisfied with their choice.

The respondents asked about what supports them at work, emphasize the importance of interpersonal relations. The process of transferring knowledge by more experienced colleagues is supportive for them. The respondents also learn based on their own and their colleagues experience. In this context, the respondents emphasize the important role of other women. They talked about the importance of working in companies with women as CEOs, supporting other younger women.

The respondents also spoke about the uniqueness of sharing experience among women. From their perspective, some issues will not be understood by men. Only women can also share solutions or coping strategies at work.

The most difficult issue to solve seems to be reconciling being a mother and sailing on a ship. The respondents do not see good solutions here. There is a dominant belief that the problem cannot be solved and women have to choose between work and motherhood. The nature of work at sea seems to be an unchangeable obstacle. Meanwhile, one Canadian company has introduced practices aimed at supporting women in reconciling work and family life, and in the long run, attracting women to work in the maritime industry. They have implemented flexible working time already during pregnancy, leveling gender pay gap by increasing the wages of women in the period preceding maternity leave or reducing the scope of work during pregnancy, the possibility of using medical insurance in harbours where the ship arrives, and also after giving birth, it is possible to take extended maternity / paternity leave (Chamber of Marine Commerce, 2019).

Based on the research and available solutions, the following key recommendations can be made:

  • organization of support for women in the maritime industry in the field of counseling and mentoring, including the development of professional competences;
  • organization of support for women starting their job in the maritime industry; organization of counseling and mentoring implemented by women who successfully pursue a career in the maritime industry;
  • implementation of equality and anti-discrimination policies in the field of work management in companies from the maritime industry, as well as universities that are part of the maritime sector;
  • implementation of permanent mechanisms to protect women and men working as seafarers from experiencing violence and sexual harassment in the work environment;
  • implementation of effective solutions enabling reconciliation of professional and parental responsibilities by women and men employed in the maritime industry, taking into account the different situations in which they find themselves.
  • Photo of Monika Popow presenting report on November the 15th 2019. Photo by Sylwester Ciszek.