As the director of SLR, it is important to Sarah Roads that the industry she supplies resources to actively seeks to elevate women. The last week In September was National Inclusion Week and SLR is fully committed to being part of a change that seeks to elevate the position of women in the shipbuilding industry and support diversity. Let’s look at the history of women in this industry, where we are today and how we build for the future.

The first women in shipbuilding

Women first started to occupy traditionally male roles in the shipbuilding sector during World War II. Prior to that time, women’s jobs in shipyards tended to be cleaning and polishing or catering. A shortage of male labour across the country during WWII meant that women had to step into general labour roles and became trained as plumbers or welders. Clearly, the construction and refit of ships during the Second World War was a central part of the war effort and the shipyards around the UK were busy and productive thanks to the hard work and support of skilled women. It wasn’t just the UK, women stepped up across the globe:

“In 1943 at the height of the shipbuilding boom, nearly 65% of the shipbuilding workers on the west coast brackets (USA)were women” Maritime Institute of Technology

Sadly women across the globe supporting the Maritime industry were mostly rewarded by losing their jobs as soon as peace arrived. How much has the position of women moved on since this period?

Promoting diversity in the maritime industry

In 2018 the organisation Maritime UK started the Women in Maritime program. The aim of this task force was to bring leaders and the maritime industry together to think about some practical steps that could address the gender imbalance in the sector. Its aims were to increase leaders in senior roles within the Maritime industry such as ports, shipping, and other marine-related industries. The government further supported this initiative in 2019 when it released the Maritime 2050 people route map.

The next UK event to look forward to is the Women in… Summit on Wednesday 12th October held in London and online. It’s the second event that has taken place and it’s an opportunity for women in industries such as rail, transport, aviation, and maritime – and for the first-time women in logistics – to collaborate. They will be covering themes such as leadership, careers, mental health well-being and the role of allies.

Inspirational Women of Portsmouth Awards

Locally, October sees the launch of the Inspirational Women of Portsmouth awards to be held in March 2023. The support of events like this is something close to the heart of SLR to help shine a light on women navigating their way through the male-dominated marine sector. It is so important to our director Sarah Roads that she discussed this recently with Steve Hill the MD at Denholm Industrial at a recent networking event. He agreed with Sarah and sees the importance of allies for women so was happy to sponsor these awards as part of Denholm’s commitment to elevating women in the industry.

Change happens one step at a time.