A REPORT from the International Maritime Organization and the Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association has found women account for only 29% of the overall maritime workforce and 20% of the workforce across national maritime authorities.

The Women in Maritime Survey 2021 report was launched on the inaugural International Day for Women in Maritime on 18 May.

The survey was conducted throughout 2021 via online assessments sent to IMO members states and companies. It highlights significant variation among sub-sectors of the maritime industry.

According to data gathered from IMO member states, search and rescue teams within national maritime authorities account for significantly fewer female staff (10%) in comparison to female diplomats (33%) and training staff (30%).

Industry data suggests women account for 2% of the seafaring workforce and are predominantly in the cruise sector, while they account for 34% of the shipowners workforce.

“Benchmarking the current state of the sector is vital to measure where we are and where we need to go,” IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim said.


“The Women in Maritime Survey 2021 shines a spotlight on areas in which IMO member states and the wider maritime industry are performing well – and, more importantly, those where additional attention, resources and encouragement are needed.

“By actively empowering women with the requisite skills, maintaining a barrier free working environment, we create truly sustainable systems of gender equality.”

WISTA International president Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou said the survey evidences the amount of work that still needs to be done, but also highlights some areas of progress.

“The knowledge we have gathered about gender diversity in the maritime industry through this first Women in Maritime Survey 2021 is an important step in our ambition to create holistic gender diversity,” she said.

“The maritime industry can see for itself which sectors are pushing ahead with diversity, and which are not.

The IMO and WISTA intend to produce future women in maritime survey reports to measure progress and serve as guidance for the appropriate allocation of resources and capacity building by various stakeholders.

Under a memorandum of understanding established in 2020, the IMO and WISTA also intend to develop a database of female experts in a range of maritime subjects who are available for speaking engagements.

The intention behind the database initiative is to contribute to more diverse panels at maritime conferences as well as conferences outside the sector.