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Taking action on the gender gap

3 April 2024

The innovative Women in Transport Equity Index 2023 report hopes to be a rallying call for the transport sector, including maritime, to do better for women – but it is clear there is still a long way to go across a range of areas.

Women seafarers can face a series of gender-related challenges while working in a male-dominated maritime environment.

The Equity Index recommends a raft of practical action points to improve gender representation across leadership, the career ladder, and parental leave. Many issues are relevant to Nautilus members, who committed the Union to campaign on improving diversity at sea during the 2023 General Meeting.

Members can also bring their ideas for improving the maritime gender gap to the attention of their lay reps, and Union representatives, for inclusion in annual bargaining meetings – a selection of possible requests are outlined below. Often there are clear annual objectives for industrial bargaining which can cover identified existing career barriers including parental leave, bullying and harassment and the lack of personal protective clothing or sanitary products. You can find out about these from the Union representative for your company.

What can your company do?

Workforce and leadership

  • review recruitment and hiring practices to ensure women apply for technical and leadership positions
  • implement sector-wide initiatives to ensure inclusivity at the highest levels
  • foster collaboration between established leaders and aspiring women professionals through mentoring programmes
  • establish clear and transparent pathways for careers

Climbing the ladder

  • initiate a sector-wide dialogue to identify and implement best practices for internal promotions

Paid parental leave

  • review policies on paid parental leave
  • provide paid parental leave from an employee's first working day

Flexible working

  • work with organisations who have not normalised flexible working – focus action on possibilities for offering job-sharing
  • share best practices on implementing flexible working arrangements


  • take urgent action in identifying and providing support for those with menopause and at risk from domestic or family violence
  • review and take action on current support offering for those experiencing mental health issues
  • focus on providing a supportive workplace culture that prioritises the holistic well-being of all employees
  • find out more about the Equity Index and its recommended action points

Members are also encouraged to join the Equality and Diversity Forum to find like-minded people to help promote an inclusive maritime workplace. 


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