The shipping industry like most others, did not welcome women initially within its ranks and, even today women have not been able to break a number of glass ceilings in the maritime sector. Indeed, in relation to many other sectors there is still a considerable gender gap in our industry. Of course one of the reasons for that was the early socialisation and development of the family wherein the woman was in most societies expected to take care of the domestic side of matters in the household.
Eventually women would draw closer to the heart of the industry, working in the offices of ships agents and becoming indispensible to those operations as they mastered and became responsible for ensuring that much of the details and daily routine of those offices were carried out well. Their managers became increasingly dependent on them.
On one level these women are drawn to the sea in order to escape the limitations and boundaries theyve experienced on land, yet oftentimes come face-to-face with challenges of sexism and abuse, precisely because they are breaking new ground. As more women have entered the maritime industry, there have been slow strides towards acceptance and changeand opportunity for advancement.
It has been said that anyone who ever spent a midnight shift at a busy container terminal knows that the maritime industry is more computerized, mechanized and programmed, than it is adventurous. There are demanding productivity quotas for off-loading containers and turning ships around in as little time as possible. Considering the fact that in many countries women outnumber men involved in acquiring tertiary education, it would seem that there is a firm basis from which more women should be attracted to the maritime sector.
However, with the demand of international standards in the maritime industry, the skill gap that needs to be addressed is their technical deficiency. Although they tried to address the problem by attending related trainings and seminars, still this cant be accounted for as an effective performance in the technical aspect. Many respondents considered that they are not equipped to handle technical endeavours because of their academic preparation or lack of maritime education.
Recommendations 1.More women must be encouraged to attend Maritime Institutions and avail themselves of more technical knowledge pertaining to the industry. 2.Women with potential and who excel in positions of leadership at lower levels, must be encouraged and given the opportunity to strengthen their qualifications for upward mobility.
3.Problems on stereotyping, discrimination and male misconceptions on womens capability in handling high responsibility job should be given attention and focus. 4.Top managers, particularly male executives, should be encouraged to attend Gender and Development trainings and participate in related activities for greater awareness on womens rights and privileges.
Conclusion In the final analysis it is education that will determine the success of the efforts of all our countries in 2015 regarding the eradication or drastic reduction of poverty at both the individual and country levels. Equality of access to and attainment of educational qualification are necessary if more women are to become empowered in the general labour market and in our own industry.
Women have nothing to fear about the increasing use of technology in the maritime sector. We have long proved our adaptability and acumen. It is for us to ensure that many more of our numbers are exposed to the relevant training that will equip us well as shipping goes more high tech. We now have examples of breakthroughs by women into positions which would be unheard of some time ago with sisters being appointed Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles, the largest container port in the USA, and Head of the Port Authority of Maryland.