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WISTA UK: Representation of women in board positions in shipping companies has reversed

15 September 2021

The Women's International Shipping & Trading Association's (WISTA International) UK branch held a series of webinars focusing on women in maritime as part of London International Shipping Week 2021.

The sessions – introduced by WISTA UK president Monica Kohli – covered how to negotiate salaries; a panel discussion with female maritime journalists; and the launch of WISTA's research into women in non-executive director positions and the business case for diversity.

International Maritime Organization media and communications officer Namrata Nadkarni chaired the 'Women in Maritime Journalism' panel discussion featuring TradeWinds reporter Holly Birkett; editor of Ports & Harbours Ines Nastali and Lloyd's List writer Nidaa Bakhsh.

When asked how many women they had interviewed, Nidaa Bakhsh noted the improvements in the representation of women in maritime media, but indicated progress is limited. 'I think there has been some improvement over the years because my colleague, who you may know of, said, in her 20 year career she only interviewed about six women and I have probably interviewed as many as six in my six years at Lloyd's List. So, there is an improvement, but it is slow.'

The main issue with the lack of women being interviewed in maritime media is that women executives are difficult to find. Miss Nastali described how her publication produces cover interviews, and noted this year they had more women than men, but added, it was difficult to find women to profile because they had to be on the CEO or management positions. 

This difficulty was echoed in the research presented by WISTA UK membership secretary Sue Terpilowski. WISTA have found, in comparison to their research from two and a half years ago, there has been a reversal in the representation of women in non-executive board positions and board positions in shipping companies.

Sue echoed the sentiment of the journalists: 'The data hasn't gotten any better and it's a really big issue, I think it ties in nicely with the previous session, which is how can you do a profile on the CEO if the woman isn't there, therefore getting people into board positions and non-executive board positions is really critical.'

All the sessions were recorded and will be available on the WISTA website from Friday 17 September 2021.