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Time to start inspiring women in the maritime sector

“A woman’s place is any place that a man can be” – this powerful phrase spoken by Captain Helene Peter-Davies at WISTA-UK’s Women in Command session during London International Shipping Week left a positive lasting impression on all those who attended.

Captain Jessica Tyson who opened the first session said it is time to start inspiring people, particularly more women, to become involved in the maritime sector.

It was an inspiring event that hammered home the need to educate young people on the options of a career in shipping, whether they’re male or female. At the WISTA event as part of London International Shipping Week, Captain Tyson (Master Mariner, Pilot and Surveyor), Captain Peter-Davies (Lawyer, Master Mariner and Chief Engineer) and Dr Kirsi Tikka (Engineer, now COO) talked about their experiences on ships and in shipyards, and their later shore-based careers.

Captain Tyson explained that both young men and women just don’t know that the option to go to sea is out there. Both she and Captain Peter-Davies came from naval/sailing backgrounds, and described their journeys in the late 1980s as cadets in (what is still) a male dominated world. It highlighted that ‘women in shipping’ isn’t a new topic. Captain Peter-Davies explained that both her father and mother were seafaring. Captain Tyson also pointed out, somewhat controversially, that “Some of the best seafarers in history were pirates, and some of the best pirates were women.”

She went on to passionately ask what the consequences would be if seafarers went on strike. We all know the statistic that 90% of world trade comes by ship; would world trade cease? Only maybe then would people sit up and listen. Powerful words indeed.

It was also announced at the event that Julie Lithgow, Director of The Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers, is WISTA-UK's 'Woman of the Year'.

Julie is the first person to receive this prestigious title, the annual award having just this year changed from 'Personality of the Year'. Julie was elected unanimously as a result of her commitment to education and training in the maritime sector, and her ongoing contributions to the success of WISTA-UK.

Julie, together with the winners of equivalent awards from 5 other WISTA nations, will now be put forward for the opportunity to win 'WISTA International Personality of the Year 2015' at the WISTA Annual Conference in Istanbul on 7 October.

To find out more about the activities of WISTA, visit

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