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At Warsash Maritime School, part of Solent University, Southampton, women across a diversity of roles are training the next generation of seafaring talent while driving safety at sea; the theme of this year’s International Day of Women in Maritime.

13th May 2024
MaritimeHomepage - News - Standard

Safe Horizons: Women Shaping the Future of Maritime Safety focuses on the key role women play in enhancing safety measures in the industry, while highlighting the steps being taken toward progressing gender equity. Since 2015 there has been a 45.8% increase in women at sea, but they still only represent 1.2% of the industry.

As a global leader in marine and maritime training, Warsash Maritime School provides a platform for cadets and students to pursue their ambitions regardless of background or gender, with women occupying a diversity of roles across academia and research.

Dr Helen Devereux, a Research Fellow dedicated to improving access to appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for seafarers, is playing a leading role in advancing gender equity in the industry.

Helen’s research has included a project with CHIRP Maritime and Nautilus International, alongside Solent’s Vice Provost Research and Innovation, Professor Emma Wadsworth. In a study of both men and women working at sea, Helen and the team found that women felt, as a small minority of the workforce, employers had limited interest in ensuring suitable PPE was provided.

This important research has already had a wide-reaching impact, with changes made to the Maritime and Labour Convention regarding PPE; the Convention now states that seafarers are entitled to appropriately sized PPE. Helen, whose research efforts continue, says:

“As someone who has spent the last decade working on seafarer health and safety, I am particularly pleased to see that the theme of the 2024 International Day for Women in Maritime is safety at sea.

“I have undertaken numerous pieces of research that have explored various aspects of the occupational safety experiences of those who work at sea, and the issues that female seafarers experienced with PPE included boiler suits which were poorly fitting around the hip and chest area, safety gloves and safety boots that were much too large, among others. We are hopeful that this research will continue to have impact and improve the working conditions of those who work at sea.”

With a reputation that spans more than 75 years, women at Warsash Maritime School are delivering high-quality training across a broad range of subjects, including safety. Catrin Gautier, Senior Lecturer (Medical and First Aid), delivers essential training in first aid, ensuring seafarers have the knowledge they need in high-pressure environments. Catrin says:

“Critical to the delivery of effective maritime medical training at Warsash is the acknowledgement that seafarers are individuals who bring a rich background of knowledge and experience to the classroom setting. Medical preparedness, regardless of the stage students are in their career progression, is a vital safety culture component relative to all the diverse settings in which our delegates are employed.”

Elsewhere, staff are reflecting on the progress of gender equity in the industry. Nicola Pryce-Roberts, Senior Lecturer Maritime Business & Law at Warsash Maritime School, says:

"It has always been a great pleasure to work in such a dynamic, important industry, one that is the lifeblood of the world economy. When I began my career there were many fewer women than there are now - but things have changed, the industry has changed. It is no longer unusual to meet female CEOs, shipowners, and ship masters.

“Women are now bringing their talent, ambition and achievements and making their presence felt right across the maritime industry, from education and regulation to operation, creating a cleaner, greener and safer industry for all."

To find out more about courses at Warsash Maritime School visit