WHY are so few seafarers ‘shefarers’?

That’s the question researchers at Southampton Solent University will be asking after receiving £70,000 funding to find out why there are not more women following a career at sea.

Currently, only two per cent of the world’s seafarers are female and of these women 94 per cent work either on cruise ships or passenger ferries.

The research is being funded by the ITF Seafarers’ Trust whose head, Kimberly Karlshoej, said: “With only a tiny percentage of the seagoing workforce made up of women, identifying and properly exploring these factors is urgently needed – both so that women are encouraged to become seafarers, and so that female seafarers feel safe, valued and respected while at sea. The Seafarers’ Trust is therefore delighted to sponsor this timely research.”

The research project led by Southampton Solent in collaboration with the University of Greenwich, China Maritime Centre, aims to examine the working conditions aboard the world’s ships many of which have multi-cultural crews.

Dr Kate Pike, senior research fellow at Southampton Solent says: “This project aims to improve the welfare and working conditions on-board for all crew by empowering and supporting women who may be experiencing discrimination and harassment. It will identify gaps in current knowledge and raise awareness of the wider issues surrounding multicultural crews so that women can play a fuller role on board ships and beyond.”

The research will draw on data from current and former students from Solent University’s Warsash Maritime Academy, China’s Shanghai Maritime University and Nigeria’s National Maritime Academy.