Women's International Shipping & Trading Association

Women in maritime have shown leadership during the pandemic crisis, 61% of participants of a COVID survey believe

October 29, 2022

28 October 2022


WISTA International (Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association) and the researchers from the Espirito Santo Federal University in Brazil (UFES) ran a survey focused on the impact of the COVID pandemic on women in maritime based on work, family and community life of WISTA members. According to the findings, 61.51% of the participants feel that women showed leadership during the pandemic crisis at work or in their communities. A further key finding was that for the majority of the group (54.81%), domestic activities increased after the start of the pandemic.


Participants’ characteristics in numbers:
  • 239 participants worldwide
  • The average age of respondents is 44
  • Industry experience, on average, 18 years
  • 9 races/ethnic groups


The survey, conducted by Priscilla de Oliveira Martins and Alexandro De Andrade from the UFES, was completed by 239 participants from around the world, including Europe (128), North America (43), South America (25), Asia (22), Central America (9), Oceania (9) and Africa (3). The majority of respondents are from the USA (43), followed by Greece (33), Norway (25), France (19), Netherlands (18), Sweden (11), Australia (9) and others (81).


Psychosocial indicators analysis considered by researchers in the survey were:
work-family conflict, life satisfaction, work engagement, psychological capital and community engagement.


The research showed that most of the respondents, 61.51%, feel that women exhibited leadership at work or in their communities during the pandemic crisis. Also, for the majority of participants (54.81%) in the group, domestic activities increased after the start of the COVID pandemic, with a family member or a part-time person hired to do the household activities. On the other hand, 42.68% said they had experienced no change and only 2.51% felt that domestic activities had decreased.
Participants ranged from 23 to 68 years old, with an average age being 44. The race or ethnic groups represented were: White (171), Latino (27), Asian (19), Black (7), African (2), Mixed (6), Greek (1), Indian (2), Turkish (1). Years worked in the maritime range between 1 to 50 years, with an average of 18 years of experience in the industry.


Working remotely with the same salary but more hours


Regarding work during the pandemic period, most survey respondents migrated to remote work with the same salary and saw no increase in responsibility. However, there was an increase in the number of working hours. Most respondents have returned to face-to-face work, but a considerable number are in hybrid work or home office.


Additionally, an interesting finding is that work-family conflict is negatively associated with flexible work culture, life satisfaction and enhanced work in the family:
  • Psychological capital and enhancement work in the family predict work engagement.
  • Enhancement of family in work predicts work disengagement.
  • Flexible work culture predicts life satisfaction.


The respondents generally have a good education, at a master’s degree level, earn between 30,000 and 100,000 EUR and are in a mid-level position. In addition, most are married, have children over the age of 10 and are breadwinners in the family.


Psychological capital is a set of resources that help a person succeed and perform at their best at work. It includes four resources: self–efficacy, optimism, hope and resilience.


Volunteer work culture, predicted by psychological capital and flexible work


Other conclusions regarding relationships between indicators show that psychological capital and flexible work culture predict volunteer work culture. Examples of answers on volunteer work include: delivering medicines to older adults who needed to stay in their houses before having the possibility of being vaccinated, volunteering with a community philanthropic group where they assisted with crisis work, donating to different fundraisers and NGO’s or just staying home, minimising contact points and got vaccinated.


Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou, President of WISTA International, states:


“The COVID pandemic was an important and unprecedented event we all experienced across the globe. Understanding the impact it had on women working in the maritime sector was essential for WISTA International, especially as this was the first time there was any research on this from our perspective. I am very grateful for all the work done by the great researchers from the Espirito Santo Federal University in Brazil. The findings are significant and help us better understand the impact on women’s well-being, particularly women in maritime, during the crisis.”

Despina Pan. Theodosiou

Fabiana Martins, WISTA International member and a maritime lawyer representing UFES, declaires:


“This survey’s findings are particularly significant for women in the maritime and the industry’s future. The COVID pandemic impacted people globally, but it was also essential to understand the situation of women in the maritime sector during that critical time. That is why the survey covered the main aspects of life: family, work, life satisfaction, psychological capital and engagement in the community. The UFES researchers gathered essential information from participants worldwide, with diverse backgrounds, ages and professional experience. So, these results provide a more precise and relevant image of how women in the industry, from different places on the globe, adapt in unprecedented situations.”

Fabiana Martins


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