University of Tasmania

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Key factors impacting women seafarers’ participation in the evolving workplace: a qualitative exploration

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 16:55 authored by Saratkumar NarayananSaratkumar Narayanan, Gholam Reza EmadGholam Reza Emad, Jiangang FeiJiangang Fei
Women constitute a mere 1.28 % of currently active seafarers. This is despite the concerted international efforts over the years to promote female participation in the maritime industry. Previous studies have identified several causal factors for the dismal representation of women in this sector. However, the current disruptions in the maritime workplace, mainly caused by the introduction of digital technologies and automation, have created a novel environment that limits the relevance of several previous research findings. This study aims to address that gap by investigating the factors impacting women seafarers’ participation in the transition period leading to a technology-rich, highly automated future in the maritime industry. This paper is part of a larger qualitative study that looks at workplace participation and learning by seafarers. The data for this study was collected through semi-structured interviews and focus-groups conducted among seafarers and other maritime stakeholders. The thematic analysis of the data identified some physical, social, and psychological barriers that impede the workplace participation of women seafarers. Additionally, our analysis shows that the progressive adoption of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ship (MASS) and Shipping 4.0 will play an important role in improving women’s participation in the shipping sector. However, to facilitate this, maritime policy makers and educators need to ensure a level playing field by providing gender-neutral access and opportunities to acquire skills and competences essential in a highly digitalised future workplace. Improving gender diversity is an essential step to align the maritime industry with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 5.


Publication title

Marine Policy



Article number









Australian Maritime College


Elsevier Sci Ltd

Place of publication

The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, England, Oxon, Ox5 1Gb

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Workforce transition and employment; Autonomous water vehicles