The Seafarers' Charity is funding new research to explore the welfare needs of women seafarers on cargo ships.
The project will be carried out by the Seafarers' International Research Centre at Cardiff University and will focus on women working on cargo ships. It aims to explore their welfare needs and the extent to which these are currently met.
CEO of The Seafarers' Charity Catherine Spencer said: 'We recognise that seafaring is a male dominated industry and that creates an assumption that the welfare needs of women seafarers may be similar to those of men. However, with this new research project, we want to explore that assumption. If women seafarers have unique or different welfare needs, we want to understand this and if necessary, use our grant funding to ensure that the welfare needs of women seafarers are as well supported as their male colleagues.'
The research aims to interview 30 women seafarers about their experience and use of port-based welfare facilities, the perceived barriers to their use of port welfare facilities, their experiences and views of innovative methods implemented during the pandemic and their preferences for the delivery and scope of welfare services in the future.
Chaplains and volunteers providing port-based welfare services will also be interviewed to explore their views on how the services provided at port can be developed to ensure they are supportive of the needs of women seafarers.
The maritime sector has ambitions to increase the number of women working at sea. Figures show that currently only 1% of crew on cargo ships are women, so finding participants will be a challenge, but the charity says the research is vital to ensure retention and recruitment of women in the maritime industry. The research team will contact a wide range of organisations, which will include ship operators and crewing agencies, to request assistance in contacting women seafarers on their lists. They will also reach out to other groups promoting diversity and inclusivity in the maritime sector and seek support from maritime training centres and colleges.
The report incorporating the research findings will be published online by the end of the year and will provide an evidence base for The Seafarers' Charity to determine its future funding of welfare projects or services which could help to support and improve the experience of women working at sea.
If you are a woman with experience of working on a cargo ship and you would like to share your views with the researchers, please visit New Research Survey for Women Working on Cargo Ships at The Seafarers' Charity website.