The World Maritime University (WMU) has reported that women represent nearly 40% of recruits to its postgraduate program in 2023, showing some of the highest levels of gender diversity in the shipping industry. The WMU, founded by the International Maritime Organization 40 years ago, stated that 49 women, accounting for 38.6% of the total, had enrolled in masters courses at its Malmö, Sweden, campus in 2023. While this represents a small increase from the previous year, the organization acknowledged that women still make up less than a quarter of its graduates since its inception in 1983. However, the WMU does have a quarter of its teaching staff composed of women, including two full professors.
The shipping industry has long struggled with gender diversity, with women comprising less than 2% of the global seafarer workforce. The IMO’s 2021 Women in Maritime Survey found that women were underrepresented in all sectors of the industry. Shipowning companies had the highest proportion of females at 34%, followed by maritime associations at 16%. Women made up 28% of company boardrooms, according to the survey. These figures highlight the need for greater gender equality and representation in the maritime sector.
The WMU’s efforts to promote gender diversity in shipping are commendable, but more work needs to be done to address the underrepresentation of women in the industry. Initiatives that encourage and support women in pursuing careers in maritime, as well as policies that promote equal opportunities and pay, are crucial in achieving greater gender equality. By promoting the role of women in shipping, the industry can better tackle the challenges of decarbonization and automation while benefiting from a diverse range of perspectives and talents.