Women entering the maritime sector are looking to the offshore industry to get their careers started in maritime, with more job flexibility and options for careers, writes Samantha Fisk.
Ally Cedeno, Founder, Women Offshore comments about the appeal for women to work in offshore that: “A lot of women, including myself, prefer to work in offshore energy over other maritime sectors because hitches (time onboard) are often shorter.” Allowing them to have a more balanced work and home life.
Further to the balance between home and work life is the ability to have a progressive career, which is something that the offshore sector also offers, “There are opportunities to pivot from another maritime sector,” Cedeno highlights. New technologies are also making an impact, especially on the drill floor, where Cedeno notes that, although not yet quantified, technology has made working conditions less about the brawn. She also highlights that she has also mentored women herself that started as roustabouts but were training hard to move up in the company.
“We are seeing several women get picked up for entry-level positions that put them on a career path to be in the driller’s chair or even work in the subsea department,” Cedeno adds. There are still challenges for women entering the offshore industry, whether it be physical or the mental perception of the industry. Cedeno comments about her own experiences from talking to people about working in the industry that: “They admitted to only encouraging their sons and grandsons.”
The lack of women working in the industry means that other issues such as coveralls, boots, and gloves, not fitting which can be a hazard and also micro-cultures on vessels that adamantly don’t want women on board can also be challenging factors. Geographical locations also present other factors along with stigmas that can have an impact on women working in offshore or at sea.
“in some areas of the world, such as African countries, I also receive messages from women that they are unable to find work due to their gender,” Cedeno comments.
Cedeno notes that: “It’s important to change this perception” which is why they are taking an active approach to highlight more women’s careers at sea, to help raise the awareness of the roles that women can undertake.
The social media campaign
Cedeno highlights that work continues to highlight women in the offshore industry, where the company initially started by raising profiles of its women by writing features about them. She highlights that this was an essential aspect from her own experience, that the profiles feature both success and challenges of working in the industry. “We knew that there were lessons learned within these stories that could be learned from; tools that the next generation could utilise as they started their careers,” Cedeno adds.
Adapting to modern communication tools and the world of social media, Cedeno says that now they have a list of women that use social media to help highlight the careers of women at sea, which “often these posts are raw and very real’” she adds. While the offshore market is still mainly male-dominated with Oil and Gas UK reporting that there on average women form 3-4% of the industry over the last several years. However, further steps to help strive for it be equal, as Cedeno explains that: “Some companies have pushed for more women in their fleets in recent years, but it will take time to see a shift.”
Women Offshore runs its mentoring campaign which “we have had 150 women in it, and we are about to expand it (July) to 250 participants,” notes Cedeno. She notes that there are a lot of women who thrive at sea and look to mentor other women at sea to overcome the challenges that they have faced.
“I have admired our mentors who go out of their way to mentor others in our program, saying that they want to give back and see those just emerging into the industry succeed,” Cedeno says.