Throwing the spotlight on women in shipping
Addressing the challenge of gender representation in shipping
The maritime industry is a historically male dominated one, and women represent 1.2% of the global seafaring workforce. There are many initiatives to help the industry move forward and support women to achieve a representation that is in keeping with twenty-first century expectations.
One way we can raise awareness of gender representation challenges in the maritime industry is to celebrate the women in our industry. And we choose to shine the spotlight on them on International Women’s Day, a global day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
Celebrating International Women’s Day 2022
The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. BW LPG showcases Heather Cowan (Senior Manager, Fleet Supervision) and Angelica Cuyno (Third Engineer, BW Liberty), colleagues who have decided on a career as engineers at sea.
Heather Cowan (Senior Manager, Fleet Supervision)
Why did you decide on a career in shipping? I participated in a work experience in a shipyard when I was at school and loved it. I was immediately drawn to a career at sea, as it offers an exciting and varied lifestyle in a truly global industry. I started as a Merchant Navy cadet, combining my shore-based studies with practical experience at sea. I spent more than 10 years at sea and sailng to the rank of Chief Engineer. I then wanted to take my career to the next level, and decided to come on shore. A career on shore has enabled me to take on new challenges and manage much larger scale projects at fleet level, such as the recent LPG dual-fuel technology retrofitting project.
Reflecting on your years at sea, what was the most memorable moment? Becoming a Chief engineer! Gaining my Chief Engineers ticket was a very proud moment – and was a real recognition of many years of hard work.
Was it difficult to be a female seafarer?How did you overcome challenges? Honestly, it was sometimes. When I first started at sea, I was often the only woman on board. Today things are changing and, even if we still have some way to go, many young women are now choosing a career at sea. I took my job seriously, worked hard and got the job done! I didn’t ever expect to be given preferential treatment, but in the early years I often had to prove myself to my male colleagues and work harder than them to win their respect.
What words of encouragement will you give younger women who are thinking of a career at sea? A career at sea is an incredibly rewarding career. Every day is different, you get to travel the world, and build great camaraderie with your colleagues. You develop a wide range of valuable practical, inter-personal and management skills, working in a really diverse environment. Today, woman choosing a career at sea can expect to work in a modern, inclusive workplace filled with amazing individuals with a real commitment to enable women to thrive in their careers.
Angelica Cuyno (Third Engineer, BW Liberty)
Why did you decide on a career in shipping? I decided to join this industry because I wanted to step out of my comfort zone, and do something unique and challenging. When I was in high school, the university offered a very attractive scholarship program and that made me decide to jump into shipping.
Is it difficult to be a female seafarer?How did you overcome challenges? As with any job, there are challenges that comes with it. Female seafarers are still uncommon, and what I do is to ensure that I work hard and show my team mates that I have skills and can add value. A colleague who executes his or her duties and responsibilities well is a valued one, whether male or female.
What do you enjoy about your job? I am proud that I am financially independent and can provide for my family back home. I love being able to travel the world and meet people and experience different cultures. This has opened up my mind beyond the confines of my own culture and assumptions, and helped me work well with people from diverse backgrounds. Finally, I love working in the engine room, operating and maintaining machineries, troubleshooting and fixing them. At the end of the day, it gives me a sense of fulfillment that our efforts as a team contibute to the safe, efficient and smooth sailing of our vessel.
What words of encouragement will you give younger women who are thinking of a career at sea? Do not be scared to swim against the tide. Find your determination, perseverance and resilience. Do not be afraid to do the uncommon or atypical. Remove the limits you have artifically set for yourself. I did it, and so can you.
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Topics: CSR, Sustainability, environmental protection, technology, strategy, women in shipping, shipping, maritime, gender, diversity, diversity and inclusion, D&I, representation, bias, engineers, career