© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015Momoko Kitada, Erin Williams and Lisa Loloma Froholdt (eds.)Maritime Women: Global LeadershipWMU Studies in Maritime Affairs310.1007/978-3-662-45385-8_21
World Maritime University, Malmö, Sweden
Brunssum, The Netherlands
KeywordsEducationResearchLeadershipGenderSustainable development in shipping
The 19 papers in this volume exemplify well the breadth of presentations at MWGL 2014. The papers concern diverse topics of policy, career, education, leadership and sustainability, which women in the maritime sector commonly confront during their careers. Overall, the lack of gender policies was identified in the shipping industry, as there is no effective implementation and monitoring mechanism for them. One of the keys to reflect women’s voice at policy levels, appeared to be “leadership”; promoting women’s leadership in public and corporate economic decision-making is a crucial agenda around the world.1 Women’s career development in male-dominated industries, such as shipping, tends to be hindered by various factors. For example, the idea of work-life balance is neither institutionalized nor practiced in the shipping industry. There is a tendency to pre-assume that the STEM field is not suitable for women, resulting in unequal access to employment. In order to change such assumptions, “education” and “research” should be key areas of focus, but also necessary, are efforts to increase the visibility of maritime women by highlighting best practices in the maritime sector. However, policy handles may be necessary in order to enhance educational and employment opportunities for women. Last, but not least, this volume also draws out that women’s contribution to the shipping industry will serve the International Maritime Organization (IMO)’s concept of a sustainable maritime transportation system.2
Based on scientific findings of research presented at MWLG 2014, it is apparent that all of these evidence-based papers in this volume help us to construct the notions of gender-related issues observed over various maritime sectors, including seafaring, ports, administration, law and education. It is apparent that we need more women leaders to make positive changes in the industry. Bearing this in mind, how can we increase the number of professional women, as well as the number of women leaders in the maritime sector?
The conference debates at MWGL 2014 were vibrant among the 265 participants from 74 countries across Asia, Pacific, Africa, Middle-East, Europe, North and South America that took part in this international 2-day event. Indeed, the participants appeared happy and excited to be there, and to meet interesting people at the conference. The energized and positive atmosphere directly contributed to partisans forging enduring connections to address the common issues specific to women in the maritime sector. They confirmed the importance of networking and mentoring as an effective strategy for the integration of women in the maritime sector. Karin Orsel, President of the Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA), encouraged young peers to be role-models and use mentorship to support each other by saying ‘Identify role models within the industry and support and promote them. If you can’t find a good role model, be one!’3 Mentoring projects are also regarded as an effective tool for increasing leadership capacity in trade unions, according to Alison McGarry, Coordinator of the Women Transport Workers’ Department of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). Successes of maritime women were highlighted during MWGL 2014 and boosted networking opportunities among the participants. A new maritime women’s network, the World Maritime University Women’s Association (WMUWA), was born through the process of organizing MWGL 2014. Even existing networks for maritime women, including the IMO regional support networks and WISTA networks, seemed to have gained additional momentum to address some of the organizational issues. For example, the Women In Maritime Association – Asia (WIMA-ASIA) started to prepare for setting up several new Asian national chapters within the organizational framework; the Papua New Guinea Women in Maritime Association (PNGWiMA) also began to discuss organizing a conference on maritime women in Pacific regions in a few years’ time; Naa Densua Aryeetey, President of WISTA Ghana, advocated the need of targeting maritime women in the West African region to increase their visibility during the conference; and similarly, one of the founding members of WISTA South Africa, started the discussion of sustaining the organization. These are only a few examples of the many outcomes of MWGL 2014.
From the experiences of hosting two international conferences on Maritime Women, in 2008 and 2014, the World Maritime University (WMU) recognizes the importance of creating an opportunity of face-to-face gatherings to encourage and empower women in the maritime sector. This also echoes the WMU’s mission to provide a forum for international collaboration on maritime transportation.4 In the past 30 years, WMU has produced 3,663 graduates from 165 countries around the world, including 421 female graduates in 78 countries. While studying in Malmö, they were exposed to a great diversity of people from around the globe and shared a number of multi-cultural opportunities at WMU. This process of understanding and sharing helped to build a useful global network to support their work back home. The accumulation of this maritime professional network at the global level is a powerful tool that can be a genuine contribution to the further development of promoting diversity issues in the maritime sector, thereby serving a sustainable maritime transportation system.