Nautilus International, the UK-Dutch union for maritime professionals, has today called on the maritime industry to do more to support women seafarers and encourage women to enter the profession.
In 2021, Nautilus International conducted its ‘maritime barometer’ survey to gauge the British and Dutch public’s understanding of the maritime industry. The survey found that the average person thought 18% of the maritime industry was made up of women, when the true figure is approximately 2-3%.
However, when asked if they would consider a career at sea, 15% of women answered ‘yes but I don’t know what jobs are available’ – this number was the same for both men and women. In the Netherlands, more than a third of women responded saying they would consider a career at sea.
These results, says Nautilus, is clear evidence that women are, at least initially, no less interested than men in pursuing a career in the maritime industry and that lack of interest cannot explain the disparity in numbers.
Alongside its survey of the British and Dutch public, Nautilus carried out a 10 year Social Conditions Survey of its members – the largest independent survey of seafarers worldwide – which clearly showed that women seafarers still face unfair obstacles during their careers.
According to the survey, nearly three quarters of female respondents felt there was not a good variety of sizes in personal protection equipment – vital equipment that saves lives. Women seafarers should not be at higher risk simply because of their gender. When asked about bullying and harassment onboard, a number of respondents highlighted their experiences of sexism and sexual harassment, a major issue facing women at sea.
Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson said: “The International Chamber of Shipping estimates a global shortage of 89,510 seafarers by 2026, but there is a real opportunity to address this by encouraging more women to work at sea. We also need to ensure those who do go to sea feel welcome in the profession.
“However, this will not happen if women aren’t given adequate safety protection, and if bullying and harassment – including sexual harassment – are not taken seriously.
“Nautilus International campaigns for fair treatment onboard, and fair access to career opportunities for all. It is essential that we all do what we can to support women seafarers both now and in the future.”