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The Lloyd’s List Podcast: Why women need their own day in the maritime calendar

IMO designates May 18 as the International Day for Women in Maritime

A male boss in the 1970s told one of the Wista founders that she needed to be a cold bitch or an ‘easy lay’ to get ahead in shipping. Lloyd’s List celebrates a world where such sentiments are no longer shared or aired


This episode of the Lloyd's List podcast was brought to you by Lloyd's Register - visit www.lr.org/en/ for more information.

“You have to be a cold bitch or an easy lay.”

Those words of advice were given nearly 50 years ago by the boss of a London-based shipping company to a young woman starting out her maritime career.

That young woman went on to become one of the three founders of Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association, known as Wista.

The story was recounted at a Wista event in London back in 2019 to celebrate the progress made across the industry in diversity and inclusion.

Since then, May 18 has been assigned as the International Day for Women in Maritime by the International Maritime Organization.

Women represent a large pool of talent that’s been overlooked, according to Karine Langlois from the IMO.

“Even just with my own observation, being at IMO for well over a decade now, the parity in the delegations that come to the IMO meetings have far more women in them,” she said.

“We used sometimes to see and even for more technical meetings, we used to see men-only delegations, and now you see sometimes even entire delegations represented by women, so that is definitely a positive change even for us here at the IMO.”

Anna Robinson, a partner at London law firm Watson Farley & Williams, said women are well represented in maritime law, and diversity differs when comparing offshore and onshore roles.

“When you look at the targets, which the International Chamber of Shipping advocates, they’re very conservative, which I think highlights the scale of the problem,” she said.

“In three years, they’re looking at 12%, in 20 years, we’re still only looking at 25% (of the workforce).

“I think it’s right that they are realistic targets. And I think it’s right to recognise there is no silver bullet. This is a long term issue. But the important point is that it needs to stay on the agenda for change. It can’t just be a fashionable topic, across three or five years, we’ve got to keep the conversation going, which is why it’s brilliant that we’re having this discussion today.”

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