Women in ports: 32 per cent of active port professionals are female

women in ports
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A monitoring exercise by the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) has found that nearly a third of the EU’s port professionals are women.

ESPO, which has been monitoring the gender balance of its members and attendees for the last year, released its findings on Friday to coincide with International Women’s Day. Overall, the monitoring project found that 31.76 per cent of the port professionals attending meetings of ESPO’s technical committees were women; while 68.24 per cent were men.

ESPO Secretary General Isabelle Ryckbost said: “Last year, our Chairman had the idea to count the men and women attending each of our meetings. I believe the results are quite interesting. Our meetings gather different profiles of port professionals, depending on the committee. CEOs, heads of corporate affairs, environmental managers, lawyers and public affairs people, harbour masters, and statisticians to name a few. The results by committee mirrors in a way the gender balance for each of these profiles in the port.”

The report noted some variance in gender diversity between committees: the Marine Affairs committee, which covers issues of port safety and consists primarily of harbourmasters, remained a “men-only club”; however meetings of the Executive committee, which covers ESPO’s daily policymaking, saw women make up around a third of its attendees. Meanwhile the Port Governance committee; the Trade Facilitation, Customs and Security committee; the Sustainable Development committee; and the Cruise and Ferry Port Network were all found to have more or less equal gender representation.

Eamonn O’Reilly, Chairman of ESPO, said: “It is essential for any industry to attract the best people possible. The port industry is a very traditional industry and there is often less diversity in the workforce than is needed to ensure this objective is achieved. We see this reflected in the proportion of women who represent the industry in ESPO’s committees with women accounting for nearly one third of attendees. We will continue to monitor and report on gender balance in the work of our committees and encourage all of our members, the ports of Europe, to work to achieve greater diversity. In any case, our office in Brussels, counting more women than men, sets the good example.”

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