WISTA Hellas seminar shines spotlight on challenges faced by women at sea


The first WISTA Hellas ‘Women at Sea’ seminar, staged at Posidonia 2022, offered a thorough examination of the challenges facing women seafarers as well as food for thought on how to support them throughout their careers.

The panel discussion, that was attended by senior shipping executives in a full room at Posidonia, outlined that progress towards gender equality is real but outdated attitudes continue to obstruct fair treatment for women working at sea. Although UN 2030 agenda item #5 – the goal of gender equality – offered a resounding call to action for the sold-out WISTA Hellas ‘Women at Sea’ seminar, it transpired that the distance that needs to be covered until the goal is achieved is indeed long.

Generously supported and sponsored by ABS, and moderated by Maria Kyratsoudi, Business Development Manager at ABS, WISTA Hellas welcomed a panel of speakers to share their experiences and perspectives on the topic.

Panellists included: Leonidas Dimitriades-Eugenides, Chairman, Eugenides Foundation and IMO Goodwill Maritime Ambassador for Greece; Vivi Kolliopoulou, Insurance Manager, Angelicoussis Group; Capt. Michael Fotinos, Crew Manager, Diana Shipping Services; Gerorge Alexandratos, Vice President, Hellenic Chamber of Shipping; Georgia Darsaklis, Master Mariner, Olympic Shipping Management and Cees Horvers, Managing Director, Wagenborg Crew Management.

Women seafarers represent just 1.2% of the global seafaring workforce. Asked about why she thought this was the case, based on her experience at sea, Darsaklis cited outright bias against women, but also the need to balance work and family commitments, and a lack of access to the social networks which lead to opportunities in shipping companies.

Male domination of the seafaring profession presents a high barrier to entry for those women intent on working at sea, added Darsaklis. “Before choosing the profession of seafaring, we need to be prepared mentally, physically and emotionally to survive,” she said.

“You will also need proper mentors, but that can take time because one of the most difficult things is being accepted as part of the team. My experience is that, if you are persistent and take the initiative, you will be accepted.”