Empowering Women in Maritime
Talk about power networking. At the 2009 WISTA conference in London,
Mary Papadimitriou (pictured fourth from right) met with the Secretary
General of the IMO, Efthimios Mitropoulos, when he invited the Greek WISTA delegates for an informal briefing.
To raise the profile and competency of women in management in the maritime industry, the Women's International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA) was formed in 1974, the outgrowth of a holiday lunch attended by a handful of female brokers in the United Kingdom. The organization has grown significantly since then to 1,200 members worldwide, an indication that more and more females are moving up the corporate ladder in shipping.
OSG is well represented in WISTA, with nine members, one of whom has held leadership positions in the association: Rhona Sewell, demurrage administrator, was president of National WISTA—USA from 1996 until 2003 and served on the International Executive Committee from 2000 to 2004.
Networking and developing relationships are what professional organizations are all about. "I've been a member of WISTA for 16 years and have benefited greatly in getting to know other female maritime executives, ship owners and charterers," says Mary Papadimitriou, P&I Insurance Manager. "I've developed a wide circle of shipping colleagues that I may reach out to at any time. The relationship I've built with the Marshall Islands Registry ensures excellent and quick service to OSG."
With more and more women joining the field, WISTA plays a part in networking beyond college. Maritime academies are graduating more women today than ever before. Debra Tischler, OSG commercial operator, joined WISTA last year. She graduated from SUNY Maritime College, Fort Schuyler, New York in 2002 and the day after graduation started working for OSG on our U.S. Flag fleet. "The most beneficial thing I get out of being a member of WISTA is making connections with other women in the industry. While in college I was one of 15 women in my graduating class, and we have all disbursed throughout the country and world with our jobs, so I appreciate having a gathering of women locally with whom to share experiences and advice." The most recent graduating class at SUNY included 30 females.
As hiring qualified and motivated seafarers is a major challenge facing the shipping industry, can women play a role in being but one answer to the shortfall of qualified mariners? "Of course," says Debra. "Not only do I believe that women are just as capable as men in all aspects of the shipping industry, I also think that we offer a different way of thinking and going about daily tasks, which adds to the industry."
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