More women in shipping: the profession faces big changes


Sima Demir, Captain, BU Med says “I became a Captain for DFDS in 2014. When I initially graduated in 2007, many people in the industry thought my role was unsuitable for a woman. I’m currently DFDS’ only female Captain but I simply don’t believe that gender defines how successful you will be. Any woman considering entering a male-dominated industry should ignore any prejudices about gender – you just have to work hard and ensure the job gets done.”

More women are choosing jobs at shipping in Lithuania

A decade ago, at DFDS Seaways in Lithuania 55 women were working on the shore and 125 at sea. Currently there are 69 and 141 female employees. While the most of these numbers consists of specialists working in the field of customer service, we have more women working in leading and technical positions.

For female workforce is also important to get equal pay. In Lithuania the wage gap between men and women is about 14 percent, but the wages of those working in the same positions in the shipping industry are the same. It is paid according to the set rates, which are enshrined in a collective agreement with the Lithuanian Seamen’s Union.

In 2013, DFDS took concrete initiatives to attract more women to the business, with the aim to increase their female representation in their board from 27% to 40% by 2020.

The business has been working towards this through a number of initiatives including offering diversity training for managers and joining forces with a renowned college to do a Master Thesis on the current state of gender diversity in DFDS, to uncover the existing obstacles for female career development.

Future of shipping – more female workforce

Gemma Griffin, Vice President HR & Crewing, looks after the HR, welfare, training, development and logistics of DFDS’ staff, both on-board and ashore, in the UK and France: “Women bring a different perspective to men and I think it’s genuinely recognized that having diversity in organizations – whether that be in terms of gender or any other characteristic – brings about a better culture, performance and therefore creates a more successful business.”

“Traditionally the maritime industry has been a male dominated environment, but this is changing,” says Gemma, “For example, in my 24-strong ashore team, 15 of these are women.”

Marisa Corbo, Customer Support Supervisor, is part of the Operations Team based in Dover – Europe’s busiest ferry Port. “It’s a very fast paced environment which can certainly be challenging during peak periods,” says Marisa. “While there are more males than females on shift, gender doesn’t come in to the ability to deliver excellent customer service”.

From July this year, DFDS will be working with Folkestone School for Girls, to provide access and opportunities for more girls to have access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) professions. To help achieve this, the company will be entering a work experience programme with the school.

About DFDS:

DFDS is Northern Europe’s largest integrated shipping and logistics company, with a network of around 30 routes and 50 freight and passenger ships. DFDS prides itself on offering world-class facilities and services and the widest choice of ferry routes into northern Europe.

In the UK, the company operates passenger ferry services on routes from Dover to Calais, Dover to Dunkirk, Newcastle to Amsterdam and Newhaven to Dieppe. DFDS has been named the ‘World’s Leading Ferry Operator’ for the last 8 years (2011-2018) as well as ‘Europe’s Leading Ferry Operator’ (2012-18).

DFDS currently operates up to 54 sailings a day between Dover and France on its Dover-Dunkirk and Dover-Calais routes. DFDS also offers two daily sailings between Newcastle and Amsterdam.

In addition, the DFDS network includes a passenger and freight service between Newhaven to Dieppe, which has four daily sailings and is operated by Transmanche Ferries.

The ships operating on the Dover-Calais route Côte Des Dunes, Côte Des Flandres and Calais Seaways and are flagged in France. The ships operating on the Dover-Dunkirk route are the Dover Seaways, Delft Seaways and Dunkerque Seaways and are flagged in the UK.

For further information about DFDS, or to find out about the latest sailing times, fares and offers across all routes from the UK, visit

You may like