Women need to step up in maritime industry

by AZALEA AZUAR / Pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

WOMEN in the maritime industry are mostly in departments such as finance administration, legal and customer relations as they believe these are where they can perform well while men dominate the operations side. 

Sabah Ports Sdn Bhd GM (corporate services) Siti Noraishah Azizan often gets questions as to whether women need to carry heavy containers when they enter the industry.

“Of course, there are mostly women in management but in the critical areas of operation, there are mostly men,” she said at the National Seminar on Strengthening Women’s Network in the Maritime Community today.

All of Sabah Port’s critical function workers, especially in technical and engineering, are male.

Women also faced acceptance and recognition issues where they were not treated equally as their male counterparts.

Siti Noraishah then decided to change this perspective and allow any gender to do any job scope as long as they can perform their duties. 

Nowadays, the world has evolved to be more open-minded in allowing women to work in operations as there have been new technologies introduced to make it easier for them.

“Women are also more confident in voicing out their concerns, which is a big improvement in that area. 

“Both genders must also be given equal opportunities for recognition as long as they push themselves in their contribution to this field,” she added.

Being in a male-dominated industry, Siti Noraishah also advised women to be strong-minded and passionate.

The National Seminar on Strengthening Women’s Network in the Maritime Community was organised with the Women in Maritime Association Malaysia (MyWIMA) in collaboration with the Transport Ministry (MoT) and Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association.

Themed “Training-Visibility-Recognition”, the seminar was held in conjunction with the International Day for Women in Maritime 2022.

It was also in line with the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) efforts to promote gender equality and encourage women in seafaring and maritime leadership.

About 160 women from the maritime field from different divisions attended the hybrid event physically, which could also be watched through MyWIMA Facebook Live.

The seminar has invited experienced female panellists from the maritime field to promote a barrier-free environment for women, so that they can participate fully, safely and without hindrance in the activities of the maritime community.

At the same time, they were able to share an understanding and belief of the gender balance in the maritime.

Gracing the occasion was IMO secretary general Kitack Lim and MoT Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

Wee said the traditionally known maritime sector as a male-dominated community needs a strong positive action plan. 

“The increasing shortage of maritime talent in both operational and leadership roles threatens the sustainability of the sector,” he said in his video message.

Although there are more women participating in maritime authority, shipping, seafaring section, ports and terminals and ancillary services, they still make up a small percentage and not many are able to chart their course in this sector.

They also find it a challenge to advance onto higher skills development programmes when at work due to family commitments.

“Therefore, it is timely for Malaysian women to buckle up and embrace the diverse and rewarding career prospects within the maritime sector. 

“Moreover, women currently in the maritime industry should gracefully break the glass ceiling by being a competent worker and stand united in associations to change the entrenched social and cultural bias against them in maritime careers,” he said.

He believed that institutional reforms and continuous learning from successful women in the industry are needed to share their knowledge as it helps aspiring women to gain skills, increase self-confidence and solve problems at work.