If there is any single industry where women are under-represented it is Shipping. Traditionally male-dominated, shipping has always been averse to increasing the participation of women.
Women account for just about 2% of over 1.5 million seafarers, about 50% of whom have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Most do not even have access to a sanitary bin on board.
Furthermore, the mindset that women cannot cut it in shipping is pervasive.
A Credit Suisse about the 2008 financial crises, found that companies with at least one woman on their board outperformed companies with all-male boards.
Shipping has the same testosterone-fuelled environment as Banking. It is also an industry with serious problems, be they environmental, technical or structural. We could use more women in shipping.
“1 out of 10 ocean startup founders is female. This needs to change – it is stupidity to only leverage half the talent pool in the world. We need all to solve some of the greatest challenges we face today.”
– Maren Hjorth Bauer, CEO & Co-Founder of Katapult Ocean
Despite the enormous challenges, some women have gone on to leave an indelible mark on the industry (and they are just getting started). Highlighting their achievements is important to remind us of what we could be missing out on if they had chosen not to.
“The maritime industry is changing with times and we need to focus on how we can attract and retain the brightest young people. That can not be achieved without us being aware of the profile of an old-fashioned male-dominated industry we are perceived as and purposefully working to change that. Using role models is a great way of showing all facets of the maritime industry and the interesting jobs available. Female role models are attractive for both young men and young women, the people we need to make it in the future.”
– Lena Göthberg, Executive Producer of the Shipping Podcast
The list is in no particular order.
Jenna Brown has been the central figure behind the growth of Shipamax, the London-based startup and a graduate of Y Combinator that enables data-driven communication for ship operators and brokers.
Recently, Jenna and her co-founder raised almost €3M in funding.
Jenna Brown started her career in commodities before working for Adzuna, playing a fundamental part in the business, scaling up to eleven countries and millions in annual revenue. Almost two years later, Jenna was appointed Global Expansion Lead in GoCardless, a Fintech company backed by €21M in funding. In 2018, Jenna Brown was listed in the top young European entrepreneurs of the Forbes 30 Under 30 in the Technology category.
Laura and Alexandra met each other at UC Berkeley while earning their master degree. In 2018, they founded BlueCargo, with a mission of “bringing visibility to optimise operations in seaport terminals” and “achieving up to 50% savings in operational efficiency”.
The startup was incubated in the biggest Silicon Valley incubator, Y Combinator, raised €2.7M. Both of them have expressed their passion in geopolitics and emphasising ports as “the heart of world traffic” and “sometimes the economic lungs of a city, a region or even a country”.
“We wanted to use machine learning to help the port industry, an old industry.”
– Alexandra Griffon
Cristina Aleixendri Muñoz is a young woman and entrepreneur, who co-founded bound4blue – a company that develops a rigid wingsail system for boats that can orient itself autonomously – reducing carbon emissions, and saving up to 40% of fuel by exploiting wind power to boost its engines.
Her passion and active participation on revolutionising the maritime industry has earned her a spot on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Europe 2019: Manufacturing & Industry list.
“bound4blue is a turning point for its great potential to make this world a better place by acting positively and at a global scale on climate change.”
– Cristina Aleixendri Muñoz
Athanasia is one of the founders and the CMO of VesselBot – an AI-powered digital chartering marketplace for the bulk maritime industry. The company offers opportunities to expedite the whole chartering process in a matter of minutes, with better and more up-to-date results.
With more than 15 years of working and managing well-known global, premium and luxury FMCG brands, Athanasia has gained strong commercial acumen and significant professional experience in both traditional marketing techniques and new digital marketing tools.
Maaike de Rover has dedicated her entire career in the maritime industry. She spent more than 8 years, actively participating in managing business development and marketing department for Royal IHC, which significantly shaped her path towards founding ShipSupport.com later in 2016.
ShipSupport.com is the “worldwide digital eCommerce platform that opens up the maritime aftermarket. It brings ship owners, operators, MROs and suppliers together for trading parts and sharing expertise.”
She is passionate about business opportunities and driven by the promises that lie ahead in the dredging and offshore industry.
With more than 12 years of active experience in the international maritime and commodities industry, Angelica Kemene is the head of Marketing Analysis and Intelligence department at Optima Shipping Services, covering dry cargo, oil and gas tankers, container shipping and shipbuilding.
In early 2019, she founded Optima-X – a MaritimeTech Hub in Athens, hosting the Enso XL accelerator for maritime startups.
Angelica is a highly analytical, industrious professional with strong capabilities in data science and management principles. She is a polyglot, fluent in English, French, Spanish, Greek, Italian, and Chinese.
Deanna MacDonald is the co-founder of two fast-scaling startups, BLOC (Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration) and BunkerTrace.
BLOC is the leading community and platform for maritime and energy blockchain-based solutions with a focus on anti-corruption and decarbonisation. BunkerTrace, on the other hand, was founded to enhance marine fuel traceability and reporting in the bunker fuel supply chain by combining digital and forensic technologies.
Deanna is also a political economist, a global speaker, an educator at numerous executive leadership programs in the private sector, and a guest lecturer at multiple esteemed universities – such as MIT, Columbia Business School, and Wharton.
Marianne Choo has more than 25 years of experience in maritime sector, specialised in corporate and marketing communications. After spending 10 years in Maersk and becoming Regional Marketing Manager, she spent another 10 years with Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) as the General Manager.
Together with her co-founder, Marianne founded Claritecs at the end of 2017. The company develops algorithm-based SaaS platform, BunkerMAESTRO, which provides insights for bunker scheduling clarity to increase work efficiencies and optimise bunker fleet.
Claritecs was a top 3 winner at the PIER71 Smart Port Challenge 2018 for BunkerMaestro and named as a finalist of the Lloyd’s List Asia Pacific Awards 2019 – Excellence in Data and Technology Innovation.
Growing up just north of Kingston, Ontario, Danielle Doggett began her sailing career at a very young age. With 15 years of experience on traditional ships and managing projects for sail-cargo initiatives, she was perfectly positioned to found Sailcargo, Inc. in October 2015.
Sailcargo, Inc. is an emerging company with a mission of making freight transportation more sustainable by using a carbon-neutral system. They are currently in the process of building the first sailing cargo vessel that has a 100% electric engine powered by solar and wind power, as well as self-charging batteries.
“Our mission is to create a functioning, thriving organism, that meets the ecological and economical requirements of our rapidly changing, modern world. Our long term vision is to create a successful, combustion-free cargo sailing fleet; inspiring change while preserving traditional ship building and sailing techniques.”
– Danielle Doggett
Birgit Marie Liodden is an activist for transparency, diversity and entrepreneurship. She is an admired spokesperson for young professionals and women in the shipping industry.
With over 13 years of dedication and active participation in the industry, Birgit has led numerous movements over the years – disruptive sustainability, where she challenges the young generation to come up with ideas and solutions to solve societal problems caused by the ocean-related industry; fuel diversity by setting up the first female mentoring program; the ‘Waves of Change’ conference, focusing on diversity leadership for sustainable maritime industry; even fronting #MeToo in global shipping.
“My key motivation comes from being useful and help making a difference towards a better society and improving the maritime industry.”
– Birgit Marie Liodden
Cathy Hodge has been working in the maritime sector since 2000. Prior to Smart Maritime Network, she worked for Lloyds List/ Informa and some of the world’s largest publishing and conference groups – including Thomson and EMAP. In 2009, she founded her first company, Port Finance International, which she sold in 2017.
Smart Maritime Network is a cross-industry platform, offering free access to relevant industry news, interviews with thought leaders, white papers and presentations outlining new technologies and processes, as well as a range of additional podcasts and video content, to provide the most comprehensive knowledge bank on maritime innovation in the sector.
Sofia Fürstenberg Stott is, as described by Lena Göthberg, a true Scandinavian, a female leader from Sweden, living in Denmark and working for a Norwegian company. She currently owns Fürstenberg Maritime Advisory and works as Business Development Manager at Nor-Shipping.
After over 10 years serving in many of the well-known organisations in the maritime industry – such as Maersk and DNV GL, she started her advisory at the end of 2016, through in-house consulting and innovation management.
“With hands-on experience from all kinds of possible and impossible issues involving change and “things never done before”, I know the common pitfalls, and how you need to plan to avoid them, or how to effectively deal with them.”
– Sofia Fürstenberg Stott
Sofia is also the brain behind ‘Opening Oceans Conference’ and ‘Blue Economy’ exhibition.
Described as a smart and unstoppable force, Jaquelyn Burton has certainly made her mark in the maritime industry. In 2019, she was selected as one of the 10 Women to Watch in the industry, announced by YoungShip during Nor-Shipping in Oslo.
Apart from being a Technical Manager of Product Harmonization at Kongsberg Maritime, Jaquelyn also acts as a mentor for early-stage startups in the Techstars Energy accelerator program in conjunction with Equinor and the next generation of Mariners through Women Offshore.
Maren and Ingrid have together steered Katapult Ocean to become a leading force in ocean technology impact investments. With their passion in making an impact on the ocean, entrepreneurship, modern technology and commercialisation, they have made 23 investments in exciting ocean tech companies from 14 countries.
Together they have built a trusted platform to push sustainability in the ocean-based industries, pipelined more than 1000 ocean technology startups all over the world. “Katapult Ocean‘s vision is a thriving ocean in harmony with economic development.” They have recently launched the ‘Blue World Perspective’ report, giving an overview of the global ocean impact startups landscape.
According to Julija, what aspires her the most is the ability to drive positive impact across different groups of people, technology and businesses. She also believes that innovations come from people empowerment, by letting employees “draw an organisational structure”, and that means, in general, “we need to write less and draw more”.
With a demonstrated history of working in the maritime industry, Julija has fronted a number of meaningful and successful programmes – such as fuel efficiency program, cost leadership strategy, customer-centric innovation,…
Najmeh is based in Paris where she serves as the Global Technology Leader-Smart Ships at Bureau Veritas, a position she’s held since 2017.
In this role, she oversees a growing portfolio of cyber safety, security and performance initiatives. From connected vessels to autonomous ships, Najmeh provides timely guidance about a variety of tech-related matters.
She is also a global speaker on asset safety and cyber protection in the maritime industry.
Kate is a personal leadership coach and an admired advocate of women empowerment while breaking down gender, background and cultural stereotypes.
With her mantra being “Rise and lead your life!“, she has set her mission to help and guide women through their transformation from feeling constantly constrained, to feeling empowered, and confident to take ownership of their life.
She also helps shipping companies improve collaboration and communication amongst their teams and clients by overcoming cross-cultural differences.
Ally Cedeno is founder of the influential and inspiring organisation called Women Offshore. She graduated from US Merchant Marine Academy and is licensed as a chief mate. Her experience on the water spans both the maritime and offshore energy industries over the last 10 years.
Being one of the few women serving in operations in vessel operations, she was determined to change that with Women Offshore – an online organisation and resource centre for a diverse workforce at sea.
Women Offshore shines a light on women in operations, provides resources to foster long-term careers, and shares the latest efforts on gender diversity and inclusion in the offshore and maritime industries.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are thousands of women who are toiling on the front lines of the industry, in conditions that are far from welcoming. They deserve a shout-out. Let’s raise a toast to all the women out there – to a world of diversity and equality, where every day is Women’s day.
“Equality is not only about creating a fair and trusting society. It is also about the power of diversity. Through diversity, we can create a better understanding of the problems we need to solve, and the solutions needed for solving them. Thus, we need to promote and actively work with equality in everything we do – also in the maritime industry.”
– Ingrid Hagberg, Emerging Technology & Strategy Advisor at DareDisrupt in Copenhagen.
Linh Dinh is Digital Marketing Manager at Nautix Technologies. She is a hard-working experienced digital marketer specialised in digital marketing and copywriting. She’s usually writing about Marketing, Technology and Business. Some of her previous works can be found on Economic Journal, Startup Digest Blog, Market Inspector, SeaNews,…
Neiloy George is Business Development Manager at Nautix Technologies. He has over 16 years of experience at sea having served in both the Deck and Engine departments. In his spare time, he writes about software and technology issues related to the maritime industry. He currently lives in the Black Forest in Germany. He moved there for the cake and stayed back for his wife and two kids.
Nautix Technologies provides next-generation digital solutions for fleet management to ship owners and managers. Check our website nautixtech.com to learn about our Early Adopter Program. Contact us to find out more: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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