The Women in the Maritime Industry Inaugural Networking Event was held at Seawork International, the largest commercial marine & workboat exhibition held in Southampton, UK, last July 4. Nearly 80 women were in attendance for the talks of speakers Katy Ware, Director of Maritime Safety and Standards of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), and Suzanne Blaustone, CEO of Barton Marine.
Head of Corporate Marketing and Communications of Mercator Media Fiona Pankhurst headed the welcome of the event and spoke about the opening of the Seawork exhibition by the first woman Maritime Minister. The Women in Maritime Center pledge and the first female CEO of British Marine was also announced. Pankhurst said that the Women in Maritime Industry informal network was created to foster a support and awareness network for maritime opportunities for women.
Ware, who is also the Permanent Representative of the UK to the International Maritime Organization, told the audience her career trajectory of 19 years, culminating with her position as Director of Maritime Safety and Standards at MCA. She also discussed the current figures of female employment in the merchant navy which is 2%. 3% of 14,500 merchant navy workers are made up of women, decreasing to 2% for engineer officers.
Ware shared that her mistake was doing her job on her own, and highlighted that female colleagues should connect with each other. “Be kind to each other! It is vital that women support each other in this male-dominated industry and help guide and mentor each other,” she said.
Blaustone added her own experience of being the only woman in sales in the American steel industry after graduating from the University of California. Achieving success, she then transferred to polyurethane sales. She currently works with 3M on marine coatings.
She commemorated her late partner, David Coleman of Barton Marine, and detailed how her loss fueled her to grow the company. Barton Marine now has 26 employees and has been a huge success last year.
The stories of these women serve as motivation for all women undergoing their seafarer training, including those training in the Philippines. It will be a slow climb, but if women work together towards establishing their roles in the maritime industry, more women will populate the industry’s important positions.