President of Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners’
In a male-dominated industry, Wista provides women with an important network. Having a solid international network at their disposal is crucial to anyone in a leading position.In a situation where women are the exception, rather than the rule it is especially important that they organise a solid network of their own in order to reinforce the position of said women.
An important aspect of attracting young people to a career in the maritime industry is raising the profile of the various maritime professions. For quite a number of years now we have been running the ‘Sealegs Wanted’ campaign in schools in the Netherlands.In addition, youngsters over 14 years of age are given the opportunity to spend a weekend sailing aboard a clipper, and, once they are over 16, they can serve a short cadetship of one or two weeks on a merchant vessel. Last but not least, for a number of years we have been committed to our cadetship and employment guarantee. And it is working! It has become evident that enrolment (in nautical education) is on the rise.
We have a way to go in regard to the girls in the industry. First of all it has to be made clear that the opportunities for employment ashore following a career at sea are quite extensive. On average, Dutch youngsters in the shipping industry of the Netherlands spend 7-8 years of their career at sea. So, wanting a family need not be a deterrent. At the same time girls’ career opportunities have expanded significantly. Many young people are not aware of this, and it is this message that we have to get across. Also, of course, female officers will need support and often it is a great help if they are not the only woman on board.