I began my career in the maritime industry in 2019, entering a sector that has long grappled with gender equity issues. Despite some progress, women choosing maritime careers still face unique obstacles, and my personal journey reflects the broader challenges faced by female professionals at sea.
Embarking on a maritime career as a woman involves navigating through turbulent waters of persistent gender stereotypes. The traditional view of the industry as exclusively male territory often perpetuates the notion that women are not suitable for roles aboard ships. These stereotypes not only influence perceptions but also impact the opportunities available to women, creating a challenging environment from the outset.
During my time in the industry, I often found myself as the only woman onboard. Being the sole woman in the crew became a recurring theme in my professional life, highlighting the industry’s slow progress in achieving gender balance. Despite the isolation, I remained steadfast in my commitment to breaking down barriers.
In 2019, at the beginning of my career, I had the privilege of embarking with a chief mate who played a fundamental role in shaping my perspective. She, already experienced, not only provided guidance but also taught me about the strength required to thrive in a male-dominated environment. This learning period was invaluable, emphasizing the importance of mutual support among colleagues, regardless of their roles.
One primary challenge is the limited access to opportunities. Women often struggle to secure leadership or specialized positions due to ingrained biases. The lack of female representation in the upper ranks of the maritime hierarchy contributes to the perpetuation of these disparities, creating a challenging cycle to break.
Another crucial challenge is the issue of safety. It is imperative for maritime companies to adopt stringent policies to combat any form of discrimination and ensure safe and respectful environments.
Awareness plays a fundamental role in overcoming these challenges. Initiatives to challenge gender stereotypes and promote diversity should be implemented at both institutional and social levels. Educating the maritime community about the importance of gender equity not only benefits women but also contributes to a more robust and innovative sector.
Inclusive policies are crucial to creating an equitable environment. Encouraging equal opportunities, implementing gender-sensitive training programs, and ensuring that anti-discrimination policies are enforced are essential steps in promoting diversity in the maritime industry.
In conclusion, gender equity in the maritime industry is a complex yet fundamental challenge. Overcoming stereotypes, ensuring equal opportunities, and creating safe environments are essential steps to transform the industry into a truly inclusive field. As awareness grows and policies evolve, it is possible to envision a future where women not only face challenges onboard but thrive in their maritime careers.
By Vanessa Cruz, Second Officer, Karmol Asia