May 18 • Maritime Trainer

How Are Women Shaping the Future of Maritime?


Introduction to the Day: What is the International Day for Women in Maritime, and when is it celebrated?

The International Day for Women in Maritime is observed annually on May 18th. This day is dedicated to celebrating and recognizing the invaluable contributions of women to the maritime industry. Established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the day aims to promote the recruitment, retention, and sustained employment of women in the maritime sector. It serves as a platform to highlight the achievements of women in maritime, advocate for gender equality, and encourage the maritime community to support and empower women at all levels of the industry.

Importance of the Day: Why is this day significant, and what does it aim to achieve?

The significance of the International Day for Women in Maritime lies in its focus on gender equality and inclusion within a traditionally male-dominated industry. By recognizing and celebrating the contributions of women, the day aims to:

  1. Raise Awareness: Highlight the critical roles women play in the maritime industry and bring attention to the need for greater gender diversity.
  2. Promote Gender Equality: Advocate for policies and practices that support the equal treatment and opportunities for women in maritime.
  3. Inspire Future Generations: Encourage young women to pursue careers in maritime by showcasing successful female role models and their achievements.
  4. Support Career Advancement: Emphasize the importance of providing training, mentorship, and career development opportunities to help women advance in the maritime sector.

The Role of Women in the Maritime Industry

Historical Context: Overview of Women's Historical Roles in the Maritime Industry

Historically, the maritime industry has been predominantly male-dominated, with women's roles often limited to support functions or excluded altogether. Despite these challenges, women have made significant contributions throughout history, often in unrecognized or underappreciated capacities. Women served as shipbuilders, navigators, and even pirates, demonstrating resilience and expertise in an industry that rarely acknowledged their presence.

In the early 20th century, the increasing need for labor during wartime saw women stepping into roles traditionally held by men. Women worked in shipyards, as radio operators, and in various logistical capacities, proving their capability and competence. Despite these contributions, it wasn't until the latter half of the 20th century that women began to gain more formal recognition and opportunities in the maritime sector.

Modern Day Roles: The Current Roles Women Hold in the Maritime Sector

Today, women hold a diverse array of roles within the maritime industry, ranging from operational positions to leadership roles. Some of the key areas where women are making significant contributions include:

  • Captains and Officers: Women are increasingly taking on commanding roles as ship captains, officers, and crew members, navigating vessels across the world's oceans.
  • Marine Engineers and Technicians: Women are working as engineers and technicians, responsible for the maintenance and operation of complex maritime machinery and systems.
  • Marine Biologists and Environmental Scientists: Women are conducting vital research on marine ecosystems, contributing to environmental conservation and sustainability efforts.
  • Maritime Law and Policy Makers: Women are influencing maritime law, policy, and governance, ensuring that regulations are fair, inclusive, and sustainable.
  • Port Management and Logistics: Women are managing port operations, logistics, and supply chains, ensuring the efficient and safe movement of goods.

The growing presence of women in these roles reflects the industry's gradual shift towards greater gender diversity and inclusion. By continuing to support and empower women, the maritime sector can benefit from a wider range of perspectives, skills, and experiences, leading to a more innovative and resilient industry.

Inspiring Success Stories

Profiles of Successful Women: Highlighting Inspiring Stories of Women Who Have Made Significant Contributions to the Maritime Industry

  1. Captain Jasmin Labarda: Captain Labarda is one of the few female ship captains in the world. Facing significant challenges as an Asian, Filipino, and woman, she persevered through discrimination and bias to become a successful captain. Starting her career at 17, she navigated through tough waters, both literally and figuratively. Her resilience and determination led her to become a role model, inspiring many young women to pursue careers in the maritime industry​ (Maritime Fair Trade)​.
  2. Despina Theodosiou: As the President of WISTA International and CEO of Tototheo Maritime, Theodosiou has been a vocal advocate for gender equality in the maritime sector. She emphasizes the need for gender-blind corporate decisions and has been instrumental in promoting diversity and inclusion within the industry. Her leadership and commitment to creating an inclusive environment have made significant impacts on the maritime community​ (Seatrade Maritime News)​.
  3. Karin Orsel: Founder of MF Shipping Group, Orsel began her career in the maritime industry at a young age and faced numerous challenges. She decided to start her own ship management company, which has grown to manage a fleet of around 60 vessels. Her journey highlights the importance of perseverance, good advisors, and a supportive team. Orsel's success story is a testament to the impact women can have in the maritime industry when given the opportunity​ (Seatrade Maritime News)​.

Maritime Trainer’s Contributions

Support and Training Programs: Description of the Programs and Initiatives That Maritime Trainer Offers to Support Women in Maritime

Maritime Trainer is dedicated to supporting women in the maritime industry through various targeted programs and initiatives. These include:
  • Specialized Training Programs: Maritime Trainer offers courses designed specifically to enhance the skills and knowledge of women in maritime. These programs focus on both technical skills and soft skills, providing a comprehensive education that prepares women for various roles within the industry.
  • Mentorship Programs: Recognizing the importance of guidance and support, Maritime Trainer provides mentorship opportunities where experienced maritime professionals mentor women entering or advancing in the industry. This support network helps women navigate the challenges of a traditionally male-dominated field.
  • Leadership Training: Maritime Trainer's leadership programs aim to equip women with the skills necessary to take on leadership roles within the maritime sector. These programs focus on developing strategic thinking, decision-making, and management skills.

Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion: How Maritime Trainer Promotes Gender Equality and Diversity in the Industry

Maritime Trainer is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment in the maritime industry. Their initiatives include:

  • Inclusive Policies: Implementing policies that ensure equal opportunities for all employees, regardless of gender. This includes fair hiring practices, equal pay, and opportunities for career advancement.
  • Creating Safe Work Environments: Ensuring that the workplace is safe and supportive for women, including addressing issues like harassment and discrimination.
  • Promoting Role Models: Highlighting successful women in maritime to inspire and motivate others. By showcasing these role models, Maritime Trainer aims to break down stereotypes and encourage more women to join the industry.
  • Continuous Education and Awareness: Providing ongoing training and resources to educate all employees about the importance of diversity and inclusion and the benefits they bring to the industry.

By implementing these programs and initiatives, Maritime Trainer plays a crucial role in promoting gender equality and supporting the advancement of women in the maritime sector.

Challenges and Opportunities in the Maritime Industry

Challenges Faced by Women

Women in the maritime industry encounter several significant barriers that hinder their progress and affect their working conditions:

  1. Gender Discrimination: Despite progress in gender equality, women in maritime still face considerable discrimination. This includes biased hiring practices, limited promotion opportunities, and unequal pay. These issues often stem from deep-seated gender stereotypes and a traditionally male-dominated culture in the maritime sector​ (ISWAN)​​ (Maritime Fair Trade)​.
  2. Work-Life Balance: The demanding nature of maritime jobs, which often require long periods away from home, poses a challenge for work-life balance. Women, particularly those with families, find it difficult to reconcile their professional and personal lives, which can lead to career stagnation or exit from the industry​ (BusinessMirror)​.
  3. Physical Demands: The physical demands of maritime work can be another barrier. While many women are fully capable of performing these tasks, the perception that women are less suited for physically demanding roles persists, creating additional hurdles for women seeking to advance in the industry​ (Maritime Fair Trade)​.
  4. Harassment and Safety Concerns: Women in maritime frequently report issues related to sexual harassment and violence at sea. These experiences not only affect their mental health but also their job performance and career advancement. Effective mechanisms to address and prevent such incidents are often lacking, exacerbating the problem​ (BusinessMirror)​​ (ISWAN)​.

Opportunities for Growth

Despite these challenges, there are several opportunities for women to thrive in the maritime industry:

  1. Mentorship Programs: Establishing robust mentorship programs can provide women with the guidance and support needed to navigate their careers. Mentors can offer invaluable advice, help build professional networks, and provide emotional support​ (Maritime Fair Trade)​.
  2. Policy Changes: Implementing policies that promote gender equality can significantly improve women's working conditions. This includes enforcing anti-harassment policies, providing parental leave, and ensuring equal pay. Regulatory reforms that emphasize diversity and inclusion are crucial for creating a supportive work environment​ (ISWAN)​.
  3. Technological Advancements: The increasing use of technology in the maritime industry presents new opportunities for women. Automation and digitalization reduce the physical demands of many maritime jobs, making them more accessible to women. Additionally, technology can facilitate remote work options, helping women maintain better work-life balance​ (MITAGS)​.
  4. Education and Training: Providing targeted education and training programs can help women acquire the skills needed to succeed in various maritime roles. This includes leadership training, technical skills development, and continuous professional development opportunities​ (BusinessMirror)​​ (Maritime Fair Trade)​.


While traditionally male-dominated, the maritime industry is witnessing a gradual shift towards greater gender diversity. Women face significant challenges, including gender discrimination, work-life balance issues, physical demands, and safety concerns. However, opportunities for growth exist through mentorship programs, policy changes, technological advancements, and targeted education and training.

To support and promote gender equality in the maritime industry, stakeholders must actively implement inclusive policies, provide mentorship and support, and leverage technological advancements to create a more equitable work environment. By doing so, the industry can benefit from the diverse perspectives and skills that women bring to the table.

Final Thoughts

Continuing to celebrate and empower women in maritime is essential for the industry's progress. By addressing the challenges women face and providing ample opportunities for their growth, we can build a more diverse, innovative, and resilient maritime sector. Let us work together to break down barriers and pave the way for future generations of women in maritime.