Women Working at Sea Face Special Challenges

While women used to be restricted to very specific jobs, today women can be found working in every industry. But in some fields, the number of females remains very limited and are only 2% of the 1.2 million seafarers worldwide. The maritime industry is one of those fields where participation by women is more of the exception than the rule.

Women in the maritime industry face special challenges, and in many cases, they need to take legal action just to protect their rights and safety. Examining these challenges is the first step toward bringing them to an end.

Lack of Role Models

Many men follow their fathers or other family members into careers in the maritime industry. Or they may be inspired by legendary heroic mariners. Women considering careers, on the other hand, find few role models to follow. 

The industry would need to take steps to actively recruit women and then feature those women in prominent positions to inspire others to follow in their footsteps. This may be happening on a small scale in a few localities, but not regularly enough to impact the industry. So the vicious cycle continues.

Lack of Support

Women who have concerns often find they have nowhere to turn for support, particularly when at sea. The multiple cases involving allegations of sexual assault and harassment in the maritime industry often have one theme in common. Women who were attacked or who feared for their safety lacked any source of support. 

Facilities for women are often lacking as well. This is one area where it seems that lawsuits are the only way to bring attention to the problem.

Lack of Encouragement

For women,  seafaring careers for female students aren’t as promoted as for male students and often female students do not offer opportunities to learn the skills necessary for advancement in the industry. Even worse, however, is the lack of encouragement from industry leaders and co-workers.

Those few females who explore careers in the maritime industry often feel unwelcome at best and can be actively persecuted. Many of them read the writing on the wall and opt for careers where they perceive an opportunity for advancement.

Universal Challenges Impact Women More

All mariners working at sea face certain difficulties such as isolation from friends, lack of job security, and risk of injury. But these challenges often have a greater impact on women, in large part because of the lack of other women in the industry. Men isolated from land-based friends form new friendships on board, but that option is not open to a woman if she is the only female crewmember.

In certain areas such as the cruise industry and environment on superyachts, the culture of excessive drinking and partying pressures women into engaging in sexual activities with some crewmembers solely to avoid harassment from others.

Protection for Women in the Maritime Industry

Women working in the maritime industry are entitled to work in an environment safe from harassment and risk of assault. The experienced legal team at Latti & Anderson has a long history of supporting women in their roles at sea, and fighting for fair treatment and relief for those who have been wronged. Through education, awareness,  programs and regulations, we are working toward the day when women in the industry can take advantage of the same opportunities and enjoy the same privileges as their male counterparts in a safe working environment.

If you suffered from mistreatment in the maritime field, you may be entitled to compensation or other remedies. We would be happy to talk to you about your options for relief.