Maritime industry investing in women

Members of the event panel Sarah Lunam, Lucy Hogan, Louise Struthers, Margaret Wind, Louise Deehan-Owen and Jo Brosnahan. Supplied image.

The maritime industry in New Zealand is committed to empowering women.

The Maritime NZ Board hosted an event in Tauranga to commemorate this year’s World Maritime Day, ‘Empowering women in the maritime community’.

The event included a panel of high profile women in the maritime industry who led a discussion on why empowering women in maritime matters and how industry and Maritime NZ can work together to attract more women into maritime careers both here and across the Pacific.

The aim of the panel was to kick start a programme of work within the industry to attract more women into maritime careers.

Maritime NZ chair Jo Brosnahan says, “I was impressed and inspired by the strong and clear leadership, and by the openness and authenticity demonstrated by the women who joined us to talk about their thoughts on empowering women in the maritime community. It is clear that this work is important, necessary, and needs the commitment of everyone in the maritime community – not just the women.”

Executive director of the Marine Transport Association Margaret Wind says, “Empowering women starts from when they’re girls. It’s up to those of us who have been in the industry a long time to make sure that the girls and young women who are joining know that we’re there to support them and be their champions.“

Representatives from all areas of the industry shared their views and ideas on why empowering women in maritime matters and how to expand the involvement of women in the maritime sector.

The event raised questions for the maritime industry to look at including how to identify and address the barriers to women entering the maritime sector – barriers that can be practical, cultural, and related to making maritime careers visible and creating viable options for young women.

There was strong support for acknowledging the benefits that a more diverse workforce would bring to the maritime sector, and commitment to making positive and sustained progress to inclusion and support for women in this vital industry.

Sara Lunam, corporate services manager at Port of Tauranga says “Empowering women makes good business sense. Having women on site is proven to lift productivity overall and improve work group dynamics.”

NZ Merchant Service Guild’s Lucy Hogan shared some of her own experiences saying, harassment is real, for men as well as women.

“We need to tell the stories so we can do something about it rather than keep avoiding the hard stuff.”

Louise Deehan-Owen, senior lecturer at the NZ Maritime School says “We are seeing more women come through the Maritime School. The next generation expect equal treatment for all. We need to ensure that the students entering the maritime sector have the tools to deal with confronting situations and understand their role in supporting each other.”

Maritime NZ will work with the maritime sector to put the ideas from the World Maritime Day event into action. 

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