Other women also avoid the industry because of physical harassment and violence or severe verbal and sexual abuse as well as low levels of support from co-workers.
The difficulty of getting access to jobs and professional development in the maritime industry is also a responsible for the few women seafarers. Companies in the country should encourage equal representation of women in the maritime industry and give them opportunities. Companies should not only alleviate the gender gap and promote gender equality, but seek to empower women and encourage more participation of women in the industry.
There is also the need for increased mentorship programmes to motivate women into taking a bold step to join the industry.
There are many organizations running formal mentoring programs and IMO has chosen to tackle the gender quality issue through its Integration of Women in the Maritime Sector (IWMS) programme and ILO is one of the organizations, who working along with IMO, has done important efforts towards strengthening women in maritime industry.
WISTA International, one of the broadest and most diverse networks of professionals in shipping, has been always participating in initiatives and programs that promote inclusion, gender equality, gender diversity, and workplace cultural change.
The is also the need for equal training as women have to receive adequate training in order to be fully aware of the regulations and meet the needs of the maritime industry.
As the Nigerian Shipping industry continues to encourage more participation of women in the industry, the Rector, Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Commodore Duja Effedua (rtd) has called for sanctions, including jail-terms for operators who discriminate or abuse female workforce onboard ships in Nigeria.
The Rector urged ship-owners to employ more females in their workforce in line with the theme of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) 2019 Day of Seafarers which states “Onboard with gender equality”.
According to the Retired Naval Commodore, “Anybody that believes that men are still intellectually superior to their female counterparts is still living in the past. We have seen female pilots, Generals, Admirals, Air Vice Marshals.
We have seen female Captains commanding very large merchant ships. These should be role models to the younger females that we have now.
“I am onboard with gender equality. I have always encouraged it at the Academy. In our last admission, 29 female cadets applied for admission, and we took 28 out of the 29 that applied. The only one that was not taken was down to her medical condition. In the process of admission, we did not lower the bar just to get them in. The girls were academically sound. They were not inferior to their male counterparts” he said.
In order for the profession to be transformed, a greater work/life balance needs to be achieved and promoted. Women need to feel empowered, and to be encouraged and supported to work in the maritime sector. All this needs to happen alongside a changing human perception that seafaring is an industry exclusively for men.