"I will freely admit that reading this article by Spinnaker Global made me a little sad to begin with. With numbers like only 2% of the seafaring workforce being women, and out of that very small percentage, 50% saying sexual harassment onboard ships is an ‘issue’… Let’s be honest – they’re not particularly encouraging numbers for a new generation of seafarers.
But then I realised that as a young female seafarer, I’m incredibly proud. Not proud of how the maritime industry has treated women in the past, but how we are making steps to create a more inclusive future.
These problems that women seafarers face are not going to be easy to fix – for example distinct cultural differences leading to behavioural issues onboard vessels is a massive topic to tackle. But there are some things that are a simpler fix – for example 40% of female seafarers said they did not have access to sanitary bins. We need to fix those small issues and make those little steps, and at the same time create a big picture plan to bring up the numbers of women in the maritime industry and reduce the amount of sexual harassment faced by women at sea all over the world on a daily basis.
Through my career I hope I can inspire other young women to dare to dream of a different career – whether that be in the maritime industry or somewhere else. I hope that governments and organisations all over the world will continue to increase the visibility of the maritime industry. In this day and age, I hope that social media is able to help influence young people to consider a career at sea. I hope that schools can get onboard and let students know about alternative post-school pathways. These days more and more females are enrolling in Maritime Colleges all over the world and making the life-changing decision to go to sea. We are starting to see a change in this industry. More and more women feel safe to go to sea, and feel as though a career in the maritime industry is not one that is out of their reach.
The tide is changing, and one day – hopefully very soon – we will be making use of the skills and talents of more and more very outstanding women."
Katie Marshall is a Deck Officer Cadet and blogger at thesunburntseafarer.wordpress.com – you can also follow Katie's seafaring adventures on Instagram at instagram.com/thesunburntseafarer