Acknowledges there are challenges minorities such as women face in the workplace and in wider society.
Provides a space in which all members of the marine community can openly discuss any issues related to these challenges and provides a forum from which to promote change.
Engenders a more inclusive environment within the IMarEST and in particular offers support for women who are significantly underrepresented in their particular workplace.
Showcases how female members can get involved in Institute activities such as SIGs, publications, events which can further their careers and how female members can become engaged in governance of the Institute
Why establish a Women’s network?
1. We want to make a difference globally to the role of women & the oceans
• Women and children are 14 times more likely to be injured in disastrous climate events than men.
• As ocean degradation and climate change deepens, women are left with even less access to economic resources, protection, and stable livelihoods, which exacerbates gender inequalities.
• “Gender equality and the health and conservation of our oceans are inextricably linked and we need to mainstream gender equality both in policies and programs and really in our DNA," UN Women's Policy Analyst Carla Kraft
2. We want to support women working in the marine sector
• Women make up only 2% of the 1.2 million seafarers worldwide.
• Women account for only 30% of the world’s researchers, and female representation in the field of marine science and ocean research is low compared to other fields (such as health science).
• Women make up about half the workforce in processing, cleaning and trading fish but less than 20% of all people directly engaged in catching or harvesting of wild fish.
• Women earn only 64% of men’s wages in the aquaculture industry.
3. We have some big challenges to overcome
The marine sector faces greater challenges than other careers in particular those in STEM. The network will seek to address some of these issues:
• Lack of “strength in numbers” - The ITF report that the low number of women employed means that it is inevitable that discrimination and harassment will occur. According to the ITF, women seafarers work mainly in the cruise and ferries sector, often for Flags of Convenience (FOC) vessels which means they are subject to the labour laws (or lack of) of the country to which the ship is registered. The ITF report that these are among the worst paid and least protected of all jobs at sea.
• Challenges of a “mobile career” - Being less able to travel for work because of family commitments for example is recognised as seriously hampering career progression. This is not only relevant to the seafarers but also in marine science when scientific research cruises may be days, weeks or even months in duration. In addition, presenting at conferences (normally overseas) and working in collaborative projects are near impossible for women with young children and opportunities for informal networking with peers are missed.
• Legacy - Although positive steps have been made in gender equality, there is a legacy that far less women in their 50s have spent the past 30 years working their way up the career ladder as men, so there are not as many working in senior positions. Whilst there are now many more young women at lower levels, they do not tend to have any women in the chain of command above them. When they look upwards, what do they see? An all-male line. Many have no female role models in their company, feel discouraged and leave to join a company with a better track record for promoting women. This is particularly prevalent in the maritime sector where there are very few females in the senior positions, both on board ship and ashore.
• Perceived excuses for discrimination - The issue of facilities for those women working offshore or at sea is an issue of concern. For example, on offshore platforms there can often be no female toilets and often only communal showers. There is a perception that men regard offshore platforms as a male preserve where they can carry out activities that are not acceptable in mixed gender employment. In addition, many offshore platforms do not have single rooms. PPE is also increasingly raised as an issue with lifejackets not designed for women for example. Companies can often use the difficulties in incorporating women’s needs as a reason not to recruit women at all.
The Network consists of three Working Groups (WG):
WG 1: Working in partnership
• Ensuring we don’t duplicate what other organisations are already doing and add value
• Looking at how we support broader initiatives related to women in STEM such retaining female STEM graduates in relevant jobs & encouraging young girls to follow STEM careers
• Examining STEM and marine gender programmes globally – are they well-coordinated?
• Looking at good practice in existing networks
• Developing a partnering programme with companies, research organisations, universities and other NGOs and IGOs to work together to achieve our common goals
Chaired by Chloe Nunn
Chloe Nunn has a BSc in Oceanography and MSc in Sustainability, both from the University of Southampton. She is currently working as an environmental compliance advisor for a leading environmental compliance company. Her research interests range from deep-sea ecology to community resilience and she is hoping to pursue a PhD which will allow her to work within communities on marine and sustainability science issues. She was awarded a National Geographic Early Careers' grant to fund her Masters Dissertation fieldwork to Uummannaq, Greenland where she researched social-ecological system resilience to local disruptions. Science communication and educational outreach are close to her heart and she is enjoying learning more about storytelling through the lens, rather than just on paper. She has been lucky enough to have her writing published in children's magazine 'Muse' (May/June 2019 issue). Many official and unofficial groups of people involved in STEM subjects have influenced her throughout the years and she is excited to be able to help develop this new initiative which will hopefully inspire others in the marine sector!
WG 2: Supporting women in the workplace
• Looking at how women can be encouraged to stay in the marine industry, once they have been encouraged to join
• Developing strategies for dealing with the inflexibility of careers in marine sectors such as offshore oil and gas and looking at whether emerging marine industries and other industries are addressing gender disparity more successfully.
• Examining whether there are common characteristics in marine companies that do not support gender diversity and whether there are generic solutions within all business in the marine industry to tackle these common problems
• Seeking to developing a practical guide for companies to help recruit and retain women
• Encouraging STEM returner activities
• Gathering international examples of areas of bad practice and examples of good practice within the marine industry and in other industries where equality has been addressed
• Discussing issues surrounding the glass ceiling & pay inequality
• Investigating how industry 4.0 might impact women
• Working closer with employers to encourage and provide support for women in the workplace
• Ensuring that the message that equality benefits men is well communicated.
Chaired by Emma McLellan CEng
WG 3: Women as leaders and as mentors
• Encouraging female members to participate in IMarEST activities from applying for Fellowship, joining Council and participating in local branches and SIGs
• Ensuring we are using the right language and have the right processes in place to support applications for membership and registration from women
• Developing a diverse set of female role models
• Examining the relevance and possibilities for unconscious bias training
• Providing mentoring activities
• Undertaking confidence building initiatives to support female members
Chaired by Dr Jane Smallman CMarSci, CSci, FIMarEST, FICE
Jane has worked in civil engineering for most of her professional career. She was at HR Wallingford Ltd from 1984 (when she joined as a mathematical modeller) until her retirement in 2015 and was Managing Director from 2006 to 2014. As Managing Director, she was responsible for a £27m turnover business employing about 270 staff. HR Wallingford is a world leading specialist consultant in the area of civil engineering and environmental hydraulics. Jane is now a Non-Executive Board Member and Chair of the Management Board for the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (Cefas), which is an Executive Agency of the UK Government Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Cefas is a world leading organisation in marine science and technology, and the aquatic environment. Jane is a Fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology. She is a Past President of IMarEST and a former member of the Board of Trustees, and is also a member of the Finance & Investment Committee. She is also a Fellow and Trustee of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Jane is an Honorary Visiting Professor to the School of Engineering of the University of Edinburgh. In this role she acts a mentor to academic staff, is involved in their diversity and inclusion activities, and sits on the School Development Committee, which seeks to develop links between academia and industry.
How can you get involved
Joining as a member of the Women’s Network
Joining the network will enable you take part in activities to develop confidence, skills and knowledge, through targeted resources, that can be hugely beneficial to your career. Members are kept up-to-date on latest activity and relevant news and provides the platform to discuss further with the wider community.
Any member can sign up to the Women’s Network to receive regular email updates and giving you sight of the WG activity and access to relevant news - you don’t have to be a woman to join!
To join the Women’s Network, sign in to the MyIMarEST member portal, click on My Special Interest Groups and tick the appropriate box. Doing so will add you to the Network.
After joining the Network via the MyIMarEST member portal, you should then join the Women’s Network on Nexus, the IMarEST networking and collaboration tool. This will enable you to connect and engage.
You are also encouraged engage directly in the discussion groups to share ideas, events and polls on a dedicated Nexus group.
Joining one of the Working Groups committees
Volunteering for one of the working groups provides a unique opportunity to drive forward how women are represented in the marine sector and contributes to your professional development. To apply to join one of the WGs contact the IMarEST Executive via .
The WG will host regular virtual meetings to discuss and develop ideas and progress their agenda. Each WG will run to its individual needs and activities will vary - however all the groups will work closely together.
Not yet an IMarEST member?
To join the network, you need to first become a member of the IMarEST