Nationality, high qualifications and male support may be factors that can reduce the degree of discrimination against female maritime officers, according to Indian researchers.
“Higher qualification marine women officers and her male companion’s support are highly essential to reduce the discrimination experience onboard,” the researchers concluded in their paper, “Exploring the Discrimination Factors of Marine Women Officers Onboard,” by Das et al.
Discrimination can also be partially linked to age and the type of contract of employment, the researchers also found.
Following a literature review, the researchers observed that there are few articles using scientific methodology about the causal factors determining whether, or the intensity of, discrimination as experienced by female officers.
The researchers set out to carry out hypothesis testing, examining the questions of:
- what are the discrimination factors?
- how can the factors be derived?
- what are the roles of the discrimination factors?
Ten explanatory variables were considered:
- Type of contract
- Current position on board
- Professional qualifications
- Years of sailing as an officer
- Vessel and route characteristics
- Whether the respondents felt that their male colleagues were supportive
Data was collected from a previously published data-set that was generated through the issue of a questionnaire sent to randomly-selected persons.
The research was carried out by researchers from the University of Burdwan, the Government Degree College, and the Planning Department of the Government of Tripura, all located in India.
Limitations on the research
As with all academic research, there are a variety of qualifications.
The researchers did not precisely describe what they meant by “seafaring” or “officer” and it is not known what sub-sectors of the maritime industries were researched e.g. cruise, ferries, containers, naval, other etc.
The sample size of the the study relative to the total numbers of female marine officers was quite low. The academic study looked at the responses from 149 female officers. According to BIMCO’s Seafarer Workforce Report 2021 the estimated global supply of STCW-qualified female officers in 2021 was 7,289 people. As a general rule-of-thumb, survey samples should equate to about 10% of the surveyed population to get the most accurate results.
The survey was also limited in that it surveyed individuals from 18 countries when it is thought that close to all countries in the world supply seafarers.
The survey was a subjective survey rather than an objective survey in that it reflected thoughts and opinions rather than factors that can be independently verified by third parties. Subjective surveys have a number of advantages and disadvantages. For instance, one advantage is that they are usually cheap to carry out and do not impose a large burden on respondents (which explains why they are often used). However, they do not objectively, precisely and accurately measure phenomena.
Nothing we have written here should be taken in any way as an attempt to reduce or diminish the experiences as reported by the survey respondents; it is merely an explanation of some of the qualifying matters that are relevant to a massively wide variety of topics right across the field of research.
Further details of the study can be found in the article: “Exploring the Discrimination Factors of Marine Women Officers Onboard“.