Women are advancing up the Caribbean maritime career-ladder into senior positions – although more can still be done to ensure full diversity and encourage women to take up the myriad of maritime opportunities available, according to a Jamaican maritime industry leader.
As the global shipping community gears up to celebrate the inaugural International Day for Women in Maritime on May 18, Claudia Grant, Deputy Director General of the Maritime Authority of Jamaica (MAJ) said the industry is changing for the better and urged more companies to put in place gender integration policies to smooth the path for future generations.
Mrs Grant, who has risen from a “summer job at a port” to become a leading figure in the Caribbean maritime community, expressed her delight in the progress made so far. “The maritime industry has changed for the better and I am living my hope,” she enthused. “I am seeing young, vibrant, dynamic, and competent women working in the industry and doing well. There are so many women all over the Caribbean in top maritime leadership positions.”
Mrs Grant highlighted the numerous successful maritime women in the Caribbean, such as Corah Ann Robertson Sylvester, MAJ Chairman of the Board; Tamara Lowe, President of the Women In Maritime Association Caribbean (WiMAC) Governing Council 2022-2024 and Country Manager for Tropical Shipping Dominica; Valrie Campbell, Director of Terminal Operations, Kingston Wharves Limited; and Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss Gorman, the first woman to run Jamaica’s military.
She said the key to ensure future female success stories is to put in place policies that enable future generations to succeed without having to undergo the struggles their peers have been through. “The world can be made easier for those who are yet to come,” she said. “We are now seeing far more women in far more roles, not just in administration. There are women throughout all aspects of the maritime world including at sea, in maritime law, in technical and commercial professions, at ports, in the environmental sector, in freight-forwarding etc. Women are increasingly being recognised throughout the industry and we must build on this success.”
Mrs Grant finds that many men in maritime are keen to learn how to support women in the maritime industry and to find out more about how they can help. The International Day for Women in Maritime, organised by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), is an important steppingstone in raising the profile of women in maritime and to highlight the skills and abilities they can bring to the workplace.
Mrs Grant, who credits her own success to hard work, determination, and some supportive male bosses, points to education as playing a crucial role in allowing women to develop their competencies and progress. “I think education and training are key, as is having the support and guidance of positive role models and mentors,” she said. Her views chime with the focus of the first International Day for Women in Maritime which is ‘Training-Visibility-Recognition: Supporting a barrier-free working environment’.
Her advice to young women entering the maritime industry is to obtain the qualifications they need for their desired roles and then just “work and work.”
• To mark the International Day for Women In Maritime, WiMAC is today (May 17) hosting a webinar entitled: “A Culture of Women Leadership in the Maritime Industry. Getting there – an equal road for all”. Speakers include Claudia Grant, who was also the first president of WiMAC at its inception in 2015, alongside Corah Ann Robertson Sylvester, CEO of the Seaboard Freight and Shipping Company Jamaica Ltd and MAJ Chairman of the Board; Bernice Mahabier, Manager of Nautical Management at the Maritime Authority of Suriname; and Renee Jodhan, Regional Training Master for Svitzer AMEA and the first female tug boat Captain; moderated by Jennifer Nugent-Hill, Director of Governmental and Community Affairs for Tropical Shipping.