Thursday, September 17, 2009

WISTA Conference Promotes Womens Maritime Role

Diversity and Corporate Social Responsibility Head the Agenda
Shipping News Feature

LONDON, UK – This week sees the annual conference of the Womens International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) at which a host of matters will no doubt be hotly discussed.

There was little dispute as to the 2009 personality of the year award which has gone to Pamela C. Conover (pictured), head of Seabourn, the luxury cruise liner division of the Carnival Corporation. This is the third time Ms Conover has been president of a major line. Commenting on her award in a traditionally male dominated industry she said, “My experience has been that any gender bias has overstayed its welcome, and the smart operators have long since taken to recruiting talent wherever they find it.”

We shall bring you a full report of the conference after it closes tomorrow but one of the other topics for discussion is likely to be the plight of Aysun Akbay, the 24 year old Turkish Officer who was captured along with her cargo ship and fellow crewmates by Somali pirates in July. Thankfully her last contact said she and her fellows were all well, but the fact that she is mentioned by name, when over a hundred others are currently detained in similar circumstances, illustrates how difficult it still is for a woman to obtain employment in the marine world. Security, safety, communication and the progress of women in maritime management are also under debate.

WISTA was founded in 1974 and now has over 1000 members worldwide but traditional bias still rules many parts of the transport environment, particularly at sea where only a tiny fraction of crews are women. Excuses for this are legendary, lack of ability, bringers of bad luck etc. but slowly the barriers are being removed.

We would urge any of our female readers holding management positions to investigate membership of organizations like WISTA thoroughly.