Women in Boating and the Marine/Maritime Industry

Women in Boating and the Marine/Maritime Industry

For those of us lamenting the passing of Helen Reddy, famous for her song, “I Am Woman” in the 1970s, it’s a sweet victory that the marine industry is noticing women’s increasing role in the boat purchasing process. I’ve written about shifting attitudes towards women and the results, in marketing; it’s clear that some boat manufacturers and distributors are also seeing these changes.

According to Boat Trader, women boat shoppers are up 75% in 2020 – a result of the COVID-19 restrictions on socializing and family travel. For many women in the U.S., the cancellation of school, summer camps, airplane travel, etc. led to the endless weekly quandry of “what to do with the kids?” – especially in the summer. For the lucky ones, the funds not spent on travel, vacations, camps, and other child-focused activities has been channeled towards boat clubs or buying an “on the water” escape and experience.

While boat dealers have long recognized the important role of women in the research and decision-making processes of boat purchases, this past spring and summer far surpassed the activity of families and couples in the last decade. More women are browsing inventory online and becoming involved in the early stages of the purchase, and that interest has continued past the classic U.S. “boat season.”

On the professional side of the marine industry and maritime world, there’s also been an increasing number of female captains and boat handling courses led by women. And the number of women involved in other areas of the marine/maritime industry is growing, too. I’m a member of a local WISTA Chapter (Women in Shipping and Trade Association), an international networking organization “whose mission is to attract and support women, at the management level, in the maritime, trading and logistics sectors.”

WISTA is now in 52 countries, representing 3,000 female professionals in the maritime and shipping industries. WISTA was founded in 1974 and Helen Reddy would be proud to know women are “roaring” across the seas, around the globe.

Have you thought lately about how you get all the “goods” that you receive and enjoy in your daily life? Chances are, some of what you now have in your home (and in your life) was transported here by boat. And, on the cruise side of the marine industry, there are now more women captains than ever before. “Women now constitute between 18 and 20 percent of the cruise industry workforce, and,” according to Cruise Industry News, “five to 22 percent of cruise ship officers are women, depending on the (cruise) line.”

While this is good news – the increasing empowerment of women on the water – there is the other side, as well; the recognition of women who care about the ocean as a source of their livelihoods in other countries, around the world. “Women are engaged in all aspects of interaction with our ocean, yet their voices are often missing at the decision-making level,” said the head of the United Nations cultural head on World Oceans Day.  It’s critical that women are involved in all areas of policy-making – as well as in marine and maritime industries – so their collective voices help contribute to sound ocean and water policies moving forward.

That said, it’s ok if you just want to join a boat club – or buy a boat – so your family can enjoy socially-distanced quality time on the water. Are you in the marine industry? Are women included in your strategy? If not, let’s talk!

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