Takeaways from Maritime’s biggest gender diversity conference in 2021

This blog is guest written by Soumya Sharma

Individually, we are one Drop. Together, we are an Ocean

In her welcome speech at the Maritime SheEO conference 2021, founder Ms. Sanjam Sahi Gupta put across her reasons for naming the conference “Celebrating Diversity, Change Makers and Sustainability” and said that the current boom being experienced by the maritime industry is suited for the maritime industry to encourage and induct more women into this male-dominated industry.


First Takeaway

“Bright future of Gender Diversification in Maritime Sector” – brought out by Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of World Maritime University in her Keynote address. Narrating her own story that her father always taught her to say ‘I can’ instead of ‘I can’t, she grew up with ambitions for herself and also ambitions to help others, especially women.

Capt. Rajesh Unni, CEO of Synergy Marine Group, spoke about the bright future of gender diversification in his fireside chat with Ms. Sanjam Sahi Gupta, saying that to move to the next level, we need to think differently so as to drive innovation, and diversity is the most important tool in the current unidirectional maritime workforce.

“Companies do gain from gender diversity,” observed Dr. Malini Shankar, Vice Chancellor at the Indian Maritime University, and former Director General of Shipping with vast regulatory experience in the maritime industry.


Second Takeaway

The examples of change makers who encouraged, guided, and motivated girls to join the Maritime industry through their own examples. Some of them were lucky to have inherited their positions by birth but the majority of the change makers in various sessions have achieved success through their own efforts.

Dr. Doumbia-Henry, one of 11 children, has gone on to head World Maritime University, Dr. Shankar became an IAS officer and then became Director General of Shipping, the highest government authority in the maritime industry of India, Mrs. HK Joshi is the first woman Chairperson and Managing Director of SCI, the largest Indian shipping company, Ms. Birgit Liodden, who worked for a Norwegian Company, later quit that Company to start her own project management firm at the age of 28, sees herself as a tool for positive change.

Ms. Reshma Nilofer has become India’s First Female Maritime Pilot and is duly recognized by the President of India. There were a host of other changemakers whose successes are a good example to us.


Third Takeaway

‘Aspire for Her’ vision of the maritime industry encouraged the induction of more women. To achieve this objective, information was provided in different sessions of the conference to guide and encourage women about the skills and attitude required to join, grow, and be retained in the industry which is now preparing to ensure not only gender diversity but gender equality as well.

The publicity of Merchant Navy was beneficial to induct more women.


Fourth Takeaway

In an exclusive session on Maritime media, current and future strategies were discussed to make more females aware of the maritime industry because as Mr. Mick Kinley, CEO of Austrailian Maritime Safety Authority, said, “You cannot be what you cannot see”.

Ms. Kathryn Neilson, Director at Merchant Navy Training Board UK stated that being a successful seafarer required traits such as the ability to make decisions, teamwork, problem-solving, being tech-savvy, and concern for safety and the environment, in addition to academics.

It was so encouraging to hear the current women leaders like Ms. Teresa Peacock, a maritime HR specialist mention the “Tool kit on how to hire more women”.


Fifth Takeaway

The fifth takeaway for a teenager i.e. myself was an opportunity to observe the soft skills of the speakers, which were so apparent in the rich content of the talks and the manner in which they were delivered.

In addition, I was impressed by the different dress styles of women from various countries, including Dr. Doumbia-Henry’s power dressing, unique haircuts, and accessories used by ladies from all continents.

My only regret is that I missed out on the environmental and sustainability sections of this extremely informative and interesting conference.


Visit the conference page for more details!

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