Gender equality remains a challenging issue within the maritime sector. Therefore, ETF and ECSA are willing to take an active role in promoting gender diversity and equality of opportunity to attract and retain new talent in the shipping industry for strong, prosperous and socially sustainable maritime clusters in Europe.

The ECSA–ETF WESS project aims to contribute to an Attractive, Smart and Sustainable Working Environment in the EU shipping sector, by supporting the work towards jobs, growth and the sector’s competitiveness.

The root causes concerning low participation of women in shipping include:

  • Image: shipping is often perceived by the general public as a harsh sector to work in
  • Working conditions: long periods away from home make it difficult to reconcile work and family life
  • Male domination: since there are so few women working in the industry, work at sea is often perceived as a job for boys and men. Ships are closed communities and in most cases serve as a seafarer’s home as well as a workplace. Concerns about the possibility of gender stereotyping and discrimination may deter potential female applicants.

In addition, based on the above-mentioned root causes, ETF and ECSA declare their readiness to develop joint actions to tackle the following priority topics:

  1. An Awareness-raising campaign: to increase the awareness of the attractive career opportunities in shipping both at sea and ashore, where many openings exist for persons with seagoing qualifications and experience (e.g. through female role models). This includes working to increase knowledge of and dispel outdated and inaccurate perceptions of the industry.
  2. Measures to recruit and retain women in the industry, such as ensuring the provision of female-friendly facilities on board ships, promoting shipboard cultures that promote the dignity of all crew members, communicating about long-term career opportunities at sea and ashore.
  3. Gender policies in the workplace: it is suggested to develop training modules on gender, policies on work-life balance, as well as policies on bullying and harassment based on the joint ECSA- ETF guidelines and training materials.

Concluding, it is stated that any joint action will be based on past work, such as the joint ECSA-ETF Guidelines to shipping companies to prevent on-board bullying and harassment.