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6 ways to celebrate pioneering female maritime members on International Women's Day

5 March 2024

Nautilus is celebrating International Women's Day (IWD) 2024 (8 March) with a look at members from the past and the present day who epitomise the spirit of this year's theme – inspiring inclusivity.

IWD is always an important day to amplify women's social, economic, cultural and political achievements, and to continue the call for gender equality. This year the United Nations has used its annual day to urge nations to invest in their women workers as 'the best solution to face growing crises'.

1. Pioneering female member

Nautilus has long campaigned for female recognition and promotion at sea and worked towards encouraging governments and employers to invest in breaking down barriers. In 1979 it honoured the first British woman to serve as a chief engineer, Victoria Drummond, and a later award was established in memory of her achievement and those of other female members. Why not buy our history book to find out more?

2. Rewriting women into maritime history

Female officer pioneer members from the 1970s were also recently recognised in the Rewriting Women into Maritime History project. Inspirational past stories from members in our predecessor unions included those of Scotland's first woman deck officer Linda Craig Forbes; engineer officer Marion Pettigrew and radio officer Rose King. Read more.

3. Inspiring inclusivity listens in maritime

We also celebrate our modern-day member achievements and their valuable contribution to our campaign against sea blindness. As the first female master in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Captain Susan Cloggie-Holden talks about her extraordinary career in our podcast series Off course: a sideways look at sea.

4. Arctic achiever

Another member breaking down diversity barriers was the first African woman to sail to the Arctic, Lungi Mchunu, who shines as a yacht skipper. 

5. Diversity trailblazers

Several of our trailblazing female members have also been recipients of the Merchant Navy Medal, including Capt Cloggie-Holden, Nautilus Council member Captain Jessica Tyson and Captain Ann Pletschke.

Capt Pletschke was recognised for her services to diversity, inclusion, and wellbeing in the maritime sector. Former Nautilus Council member Captain Pletschke was awarded the Medal for her work supporting those that have faced discrimination and as a mentor for cadets, junior officers, and shore-based members of the maritime sector. She also talked candidly on her speciality – AI in maritime – and how seafaring can bring together all genders on our podcast.

  • Find links to all the Off Course series episodes at our podcast hub

6. Nautilus Council member talk

Nautilus council member Captain Jessica Tyson will also give a WISTA talk the day before International Women's Day on Thursday 7 March in London on her career as a maritime pilot and harbourmaster. Tune into Nautilus International's socials, where the celebration of all our female members continues on the day #IWD2024.

Get involved

  • Meet more members on the Nautilus website 
  • Nautilus members are also warmly welcomed to our next Equality and Diversity Forum on Monday 22 April, so keep an eye out on the events page for registration details closer to the time
  • Not a member? Join now!
  • Nautilus also remains committed to having a dedicated female organiser available who can deal with any workplace issues or provide advice to members who wish to speak to a female representative.  Please contact Rachel Lynch by emailing