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Women are still in a small minority in the maritime workforce, but their voices are being heard more and more – with an important part played by forums like the Women in Maritime Network. Sarah Robinson reports
Nautilus members and staff were well represented at this year's first Women in Maritime Network meeting.
Open to all interested parties, this is a forum organised by the industry body Maritime UK to bring together female maritime professionals working in a wide range of sea and shore jobs.
The chair of the Network is Sue Terpilowski of Image Line Communications and WISTA UK, and it has been announced that the new vice-chair is Captain Susan Cloggie-Holden of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
Held online, the January meeting's primary focus was on a presentation by Sarah Hutley of Spinnaker on the 2020 gender pay gap analysis for shore based jobs in UK maritime – which had already been covered in detail in a Nautilus Telegraph article. Participants were interested to hear the analysis, and discussed whether the pandemic has had more of an impact on women's pay and job security than on men's.
The other major agenda item was an introduction to the Interview Pool by Nicky Brown of Shoreham Port and Namrata Nadkarni of Intent Communications. The Interview Pool is a resource of Maritime UK's Diversity in Maritime initiative, and it seeks to make job interview panels fairer and more welcoming to applicants who sit outside the usual profile of post holders at UK maritime employers (who tend to be white men).
The scheme works by putting together a bank of volunteers from different backgrounds and providing them with the necessary training and information to sit on interview panels at maritime companies which have requested their input.
'As a woman in maritime, I know what it's like to go to an interview and be the only woman in the room,' said Ms Brown. 'It can be off-putting and it can really lead you to not perform at your best. I don't want anyone else to feel that way.'
By going into maritime companies, Interview Pool volunteers can ensure that all candidates perform at their best in their interviews, she continued – tackling 'impostor syndrome' in applicants by making interviewees feel that they have the right to be there, and demonstrating that the employer values diversity.
Female maritime professionals who are interested in joining the pool can watch a video about the scheme and sign up as a volunteer. Ms Brown stressed that a background in recruitment or line management is not necessary, and in fact the scheme can be a useful career development tool for volunteers seeking to add recruitment and interviewing experience to their CVs.