Calling all women seafarers

New study aims to examine the differing welfare needs of women on ships

By Helen Sampson and Iris Acejo

The Seafarers’ Charity is funding the Seafarers International Research Centre at Cardiff University to carry out research into the welfare needs of women working on cargo ships. The aim of the study is to find out about the port-based welfare needs of women seafarers in the cargo sector and how effectively these are being met.

While all seafarers working at sea face difficult challenges, research has suggested that women seafarers may face specific problems because of the male-dominated nature of the industry. In undertaking this new study, we want to gain a better understanding of the challenges that women seafarers face as a consequence of their work, and how welfare services, which have mainly been designed for the overwhelmingly male workforce, might be developed to provide better support for their needs.

We would like to encourage any women seafarers working in the cargo sector, or on-board non-passenger vessels, to take part in the research. If you think you could help us, we would love to hear from you. Alternatively, if you know a female seafarer who might be interested in taking part in the study, we would be grateful if you could pass on this article to her.

Eligible seafarers who agree to participate will be invited to take part in a recorded online interview (voice only) via Zoom or similar. The interviews would be conducted by us – Helen Sampson and Iris Acejo – jointly or on our own. Both of us have been on board vessels in our capacity as researchers and as a result we have gained a good understanding of the shipboard environment.

Each interview would probably last for between 60 and 90 minutes, however its length would be partly determined by the contribution made by each interviewee. We regret that

participants will not be paid for taking part, but the benefit of the research findings is that it will result in recommendations relating to the provision of welfare services with specific reference to the needs of women seafarers. We hope that the recommendations will drive improvements in welfare provision for women seafarers in the future.

We will write up our findings in a report which will be made available online and we will also write about the findings in academic articles and books. We may quote extracts from the interviews which we carry out, but quotations will be anonymised so that the identities of participants will not be revealed. We will also make sure that companies and ships are not identified in our accounts.

We hope that you might be able to help us! If you are a female seafarer who works in the cargo sector and if you would be willing to consider taking part in a confidential online interview, we would love to hear from you. By sharing your views, you could help to make a difference to the delivery of welfare services to seafarers and help to ensure that they meet the needs of female seafarers as well as they currently meet the needs of male colleagues.

Our study is ongoing, and we will continue to recruit participants throughout the months of May, June and July. To find out more or to take part, please visit women-working-on-cargo-ships. This page provides some further information about the research, including how to make contact with us.

Professor Helen Sampson and Dr Iris Acejo are based at the Seafarers International Research Centre, Cardiff University, UK. Please see for further information.