MUA calls for more women to take up the challenge of a life at sea or on the waterfront

Published: 17 May 2024







17 MAY 2024


MUA calls for more women to take up the challenge of a life at sea or on the waterfront


Marking International Women in Maritime Day this weekend (Saturday 18 May), the MUA is calling for more women and girls to pursue their dreams for a life at sea or working on the Australian waterfront.

The day celebrates women in the industry and is intended to promote the recruitment, retention and sustained employment of women in the maritime sector, raise the profile of women in maritime and support work to address the current gender imbalance in maritime. 

Coming a week after the national WIMDOI Conference (Women in Male Dominated Occupations and Industries), the International Women in Maritime Day is an important moment for all Australian seafaring and waterfront workers to redouble their efforts to make their workplaces inclusive, welcoming and positive places for women to work.

The MUA Assistant National Secretary Mich-Elle Myers called on all current MUA members to consider who in their friends or family might benefit from a career change by joining the maritime industry.

“There is currently a massive seafarer shortage around Australia, and there are plenty of former and potential women seafarers out there who would flourish in our industry, so our message to them is “Join Us!”, said Ms Myers.

“Whether you want to work in blue water shipping, on our ferries or at a port or terminal near where you already live, there is a job in the maritime sector for all women, and our industry is desperate for your contribution,” she added.

The seafarer shortage has seen dozens of former seafarers, including women, return to the job later in life after leaving the industry to pursue other opportunities or raise a family.  One MUA member, Karen Williams from Wollongong, returned to work aboard the ADV Guidance, a specialist Australian Navy ship operated by civilian crew, after almost three decades away from the industry.

“Six months ago an old seafarer friend messaged me and asked if I'd like to go back to sea. I thought he was joking, never ever in my wildest dreams would I have thought it was possible, but after checking it out and my kids telling me to go for it, I did. Almost 30 years after my last ship I walked up the gangway again. Six weeks later I'm back home and loving my leap of faith; I'm HOME in more ways than one, so never say never!” Ms Williams said.

The opportunities for women in maritime are not limited to just seafaring jobs.

The MUA’s National Womens’ Representative, Angie Moore, has worked variously as a ship’s cook but also more recently as a wharfie in Newcastle, and now as a policy analyst examining the new opportunities for maritime workers in the decommissioning of offshore oil and gas rigs.

“The opportunities within the maritime industry are as diverse as the people who work within it. While there’s a majority of men working in many workplaces, it is becoming more and more common to see a woman at the helm of a ferry, at the top of a crane, or working as a deckhand offshore for an oil or gas platform,” Ms Moore said.

“The MUA has been campaigning for decades to lift the level of women’s employment within our sector and the change over that period is obvious but the training and development opportunities that are currently on offer within the sector mean there’s never been a better time for women of all ages to join or return to the industry,” Ms Moore added.


MEDIA CONTACT: Mich-Elle Myers - 0401 202 667




Authorised by P Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney