Gender pay gap in UK maritime sector widens to 40%

seafarer on deck of boat

The UK government’s latest gender pay report shows women in the UK were paid 90p for every £1 earned by a man.

This pay disparity broadens even further in shipping, where data collated by maritime recruitment experts Spinnaker shows the salary gap of average earnings per hour is now approximately 40 per cent. This remains one of the widest pay gaps in any industry.

One survey by the Maritime HR Association in 2020 revealed 95 per cent of all admin roles in maritime are occupied by women, compared to just five per cent of executive leadership team roles. This is understood to be one of the driving factors influencing the gender pay gap. The bonus gap is greater still, and women also remain less likely than men to receive any bonus pay at all.

To mark the inaugural International Day for Women in Maritime, celebrated globally today (18 May), the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is calling for stakeholders to engage in events around the theme of ‘Training-Visibility-Recognition: Supporting a barrier-free working environment’.

“There are actionable steps that companies can and must take to bridge the pay gap and give female employees the recognition they deserve,” says Teresa Peacock, managing director, executive search at Spinnaker. “For example, improving salary transparency in job adverts by advertising salary bands can help. Women are generally paid less, so the practice of asking about current salary perpetuates the pay gap as they naturally have a lower start point for negotiation.

“Another cause of pay disparity is maternity leave; improving support, providing extra training when women return to the workplace and offering greater part-time work-from-home flexibility enabling earlier returns can help to keep them in their roles and achieve long-term pay parity with their male counterparts.”

Gender diversity in maritime is extremely fragmented by sector, according to data from the 2021 IMO-WISTA (Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association) Women in Maritime Survey Report, which was launched today.

The data in the report demonstrates that women account for only 29 per cent of the overall workforce in the general industry and 20 per cent of the workforce of national maritime authorities in IMO member states.

In his message for the inaugural IMO International Day for Women in Maritime, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim highlights the relevance of gender equality. 

“At IMO through training, visibility, and recognition we aim to support a barrier-free working environment for women in maritime. Let’s work to break down barriers and ensure that we create a work environment that is enabling, supportive and inclusive of diverse participation by all, without hindrance in the maritime community,” he says.

A virtual symposium on ‘Training-Visibility-Recognition: Supporting a barrier-free working environment for women in maritime” is being held today from 2pm–4:30pm, British Summer Time (BST). 

The symposium will highlight the need for women to be more visible and mainstreamed in the maritime community, onboard ships and throughout the sector as a whole, and more widely in representation at decision-making levels. The symposium will also address skills development for women in the maritime sector.

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