© 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_11
Mind the Gap! Maritime Education for Gender-Equal Career Advancement
Kalmar Maritime Academy, Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden
Maria Boström Cars
Seafaring as an occupation, and the maritime community as a whole, is still a male-dominated industry. In order to encourage more women to engage in a career at sea, a number of campaigns have been launched by various stakeholders. Since gender gaps in education generally are larger in the developing world, while steadily closing in the developed countries, it is both understandable and appropriate that efforts largely have been directed towards enabling women in developing countries to engage in professional education and training, may it be maritime or other. However, is opening the door and encouraging women to participate in maritime training sufficient to keep and encourage women to embark on a maritime career? In this paper, we set out to examine how gender equality is addressed in the curricula of maritime education. A document analysis was performed, examining official study plans and curricula from eight maritime universities in Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Philippines; all nations ranked in the top five in the Global gender Gap Index. The results show that gender issues are not explicitly mentioned or addressed in these documents, indicating a lack of clear strategies for these matters. Educational institutions are important bearers of societal norms and values. Without effective gender-inclusive strategies and pedagogical and didactic approaches, there is a risk of reproducing inequality, instead of producing equality. Increasing numbers of female students will not alone close the gender gap in the maritime industry. Gender issues must be well defined, operationalised and included in educational policy and curricula-making at individual, structural as well as symbolical levels.
KeywordsEqualityGender gapMaritime educationWomen seafarers
Seafaring as an occupation, has traditionally been, and to some extent still is, a profession that largely depends on experience. At an early age, youths were accepted on board to be guided, socialized—and sometimes bullied—into the working and living cultures of the sea. Over the past 150 years, nautical education has been formalized and generally incorporated into public education systems (Kennerley 2002). The educational content has since continued to evolve to meet the demands of the contemporary shipping industry, for a safe and efficient operation of ships. Baseline standards for training and certification across the world are established through the STCW Convention (IMO 2011) that was first adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 1978 and revised in 1995 and 2010. Today, there are over 200 educational institutions, in over 80 countries, offering maritime education and training, ranging from basic safety and seamanship training, to the highest certification standard, now corresponding to academic degree level.
Despite some improvements in the area, both seafaring as an occupation and the maritime community as a whole, are still a male-dominated industry. In order to encourage more women to engage in a career at sea, a number of campaigns have been launched by various stakeholders in the sector. For example, the IMO Programme on the Integration of Women in the Maritime Sector (IWMS) to support women’s participation in the maritime industry, has now celebrated its 25th year (IMO 2013). Specifically, the policy objectives of the programme were to:
integrate women into mainstream maritime activities;
improve women’s access to maritime training and technology;
increase the percentage of women at the senior-management level within the maritime sector;
promote women’s economic self-reliance, including access to employment; and
consolidate the integration of women in the maritime sector as an integral element of IMO’s technical co-operation activities.
Since seafaring no longer is a lifetime employment, but rather a stepping stone for a future career ashore, more women working on board will ultimately also increase the number of women at senior management level within the industry. Many organizations, such as marine insurers, classification societies and maritime administrations, regularly employ people with seagoing experience.
It is commonly held that gender gaps in education generally are larger in the developing world, while the gaps are steadily closing in the developed countries. Accordingly, it is arguably both understandable and appropriate, that efforts largely have been directed towards enabling women in developing countries to engage in professional education and training, may it be maritime or other. However, is opening the door and encouraging women to participate in maritime training sufficient? Educational institutions are important bearers of societal norms and values and without clear gender-inclusive strategies for curricula, pedagogy and classroom activities, there is an obvious risk of inequality being reproduced and consolidated, rather than equality being produced.
While gender-equal maritime education essentially, is a principle of individual fairness, it is also crucial to the legitimacy of the educational institutions. In the long term, it is also important for the development and competitiveness of the maritime industry and our society as a whole.
The Global Gender Gap Index was introduced in 2006 by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Harvard University and University of California. The index measures the relative gaps between women and men across four key areas: health, education, economics and politics. In all, 136 countries are ranked on their gender gaps, depending on nearly 40 gender-related variables, reflecting legal and social factors that can affect gender disparity. The countries are thus ranked on their gender gaps and not on their development level or overall levels of education in the country (World Economic Forum 2013). The highest possible score is 1, representing equality and the lowest score is 0 for inequality.
In the latest Global Gender Gap Report, published in 2013, the five top-ranked countries with the smallest gender gaps are Iceland (0.8731), Finland (0.8421), Norway (0.8417), Sweden (0.8129) and the Philippines (0.7832). Since these five countries also have a longstanding tradition of seafaring, it would be fair to assume that structures and establishments for maritime education and training in these countries may pose as state-of-the-art in terms of gender-equality.
Hence, the purpose of the research study presented in this paper, set out to examine how gender equality is addressed in the curricula of contemporary maritime education, in the five top-ranked countries according to the Global Gender Gap Index in 2013 (World Economic Forum 2013). The overall aim is to contribute to the body of knowledge on gender-equal maritime education and training.
2 Research Design
The research study was initiated with a search for maritime academies and universities in the five countries. No university providing maritime education in Iceland could, however be found.1 Once universities in the remaining four top-ranked countries were identified, current study plans and curricula of undergraduate programs in nautical science or comparable maritime education were searched for and downloaded from the internet during the autumn 2013. Only documents written in English, Swedish or Norwegian could be considered, due to the language barrier.
Study plans for the equivalent of Bachelor of Nautical Science for the following universities were analysed:
Åland University of Applied Sciences (2013) (Bachelor in Maritime Studies)
Novia University of Applied Sciences (Bachelor in Maritime Studies)
Chalmers University of Technology (2013) (BSc in Nautical Science)
Kalmar Maritime Academy, Linnaeus University (BSc in Nautical Science)
A content analysis was performed (Bryman and Bell 2007), where the documents were read, re-read, summarised and tabulated. In order to ensure a systematic procedure, an analytic framework was developed based on theories on gender-conscious pedagogy. Programme description, learning objectives and course content were controlled for any explicit reference to gender or equality issues. The analysis also included any pedagogical strategies cited in the study plans. Pedagogical strategies that include various teaching activities are important to make sure that different learning styles among the students are accounted for in the learning situation.
Naturally, analysing study plans alone will not provide a comprehensive image of reality. However, the topics mentioned in the study plans may serve as indicators of what is and what is not, considered important by the studied academic institutions.
3 Gender and Equality in Higher Education
The following section briefly presents the study’s theoretical framework. First, the social construction of gender is problematized, followed by a section on gender and women in higher education and gender-conscious pedagogy.