More women in industry

THE shipping industry has long been male-dominated because of its characteristics of being physically demanding, dangerous, and requiring long periods away from home. Most cultures have traditionally protected women from such jobs, which led to a significant gap between the number of men and women in the maritime industry.

Although things have changed when looking at the global industry, the maritime sector is still a comparatively dangerous one even in countries in which women are encouraged to play an active role in the workforce.

In an interview with World Maritime News, KD Adamson, Futurist and Futurenautics Group chief executive officer explained the reasons behind the issue and spoke on the ways to shrink the gender gap.

Ms Adamson, who will be speaking at the Asia Pacific Maritime 2018 conference on March 14-16, said on a broader level, what was important was not more committees but initiatives within organisations to bring equality in the maritime industry.

She cited data from management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, which has been tracking diversity and inclusion in the workplace for many years now leading to conclusions that diversity and inclusion form part of a cultural change which starts at the top with real CEO and board engagement.

Ms Adamson said change in the culture of maritime organisations had to come from within and required different thinking. As more maritime companies embark on digital transformation, they are beginning to embrace different thinking.

“I don’t think we are ever going to substantially shrink that gender gap in seagoing staff. What will happen is that seagoing jobs will increasingly no longer prepare individuals for the management positions ashore and that will open the industry up to qualified women from other industries and disciplines,” she said.

“At the same time automation and digitalisation will see new kinds of operational jobs which are shore-based, and will appeal to a far larger number of both women and men.

“The digital transformation of shipping will see it become part of larger intelligent mobility ecosystems, and that will create a variety of highly-skilled roles which have nothing to do with the sea. That’s a big opportunity for women to join maritime. However, the percentage of women in technology is almost as appalling as the percentage of women in maritime.”

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