Seafaring is a male dominated industry. At The Seafarers’ Charity we want to ensure that the welfare and support needs of women who choose to work at sea are as supported as those of their male colleagues.

Merchant seafarers

According to the latest BIMCO/ICS 2021 Seafarer Workforce Report women represent only 1.2% of the global seafarer workforce with an estimated 24,059 women serving as seafarers. This is a relatively small number with female ratings predominantly working in the cruise ship and passenger ferry sectors. While female officer numbers are spread more evenly across the sectors. The International Maritime Organization are supporting a number of initiatives aimed at improving the gender balance.

Although small in number, we want to ensure that the welfare needs of female seafarers are not neglected. The Seafarers’ Charity is funding the Seafarers’ International Research Centre at Cardiff University to take forward new research into the port welfare needs of women working on cargo ships.

Click here to find out more about this research project. If you are a woman working on a cargo ship and would like to participate, please read the frequently asked questions before contacting the researchers.


In fishing, women work in a wider range of roles at sea, and, on land. They are vessel owners, fleet managers, fishers, fishmongers, processors, fishing conservationists, charity workers, trainers or working in other roles in the fishing industry. According to research women also play an important role in maintaining the social fabric of fisheries and nurture the physical and mental wellbeing of fishing families, often at a cost to their own material, social and emotional wellbeing.

In 2021 The Seafarers’ Charity begun funding a new support network for UK Women in Fisheries.

Our funding for new research on the welfare needs of women working on cargo ships, and support for the new UK Women in Fisheries network are just two examples of how we want to increase the visibility of women working at sea and ensure that their welfare needs are met as well as those of their male colleagues.

Photo kindly provided by IMO.

New support for women working in fishing

The Seafarers’ Charity has also recently funded a new network for UK Women in Fisheries

New Research Survey for Women Working on Cargo Ships

If you are a woman with experience of working on a cargo ship and you would like to share your views with the researchers, please visit the following webpage which gives full details of the research and how to get involved.