Changing Perceptions – Women in Marine Engineering
Sidney Oakes is focused on the task at hand. She’s repairing a boat engine as part of her training to becoming a Marine Engineer. It’s the kind of job that requires her full attention. Currently, Sidney is working towards the first milestone of the program: becoming a certified Marine Electrician.
The 21-year old inherited her passion for g the field from her father. Thanks to his encouragement, she decided to make that passion into a lifetime career. So, she enrolled in Broward College in January 2019.
Broward College offers the opportunity to earn an Associate degree in Marine Engineering while also earning important certifications in the field. The two-year program combines technical and academic training that meets the needs of the industry. The College partnered with the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) to offer the most up-to-date curriculum. In Broward County, one of the leading locations for the yacht industry, this program is in high demand.
Women in Marine
Women represent only 9.3 percent of the industry’s workforce in the United States. Worldwide, the number is even lower, with studies showing the number of female marine engineers at 2 percent.
“It’s not easy to go into a field that’s so heavily dominated by men,” explains Sidney. “Had I not been encouraged and supported by my dad from a very early age to follow my dreams, I may not have gone into this field.”
For her, seeing a more balanced gender representation is imperative to inspire more women to enter the industry. “Seeing more women in Maritime jobs will inspire women to disregard biases and prejudices and pursue a career as Marine Engineers,” she explains. “Both men and women can do this job. We just need to educate women from early that whatever their dreams and goals are, they can accomplish them if they work hard.”
For these percentages to grow, industry experts believe inclusion must start at the education level. “Sadly, there is not a drastic increase in the number of female students in the programs,” says Alvaro Lopez, program manager of the Marine Engineering program at Broward College. “Over the past ten years, our numbers have remained the same. For every 25 male students, only two or three are female.”
He feels that at the professional level change is already evident. “Every day I see more women engineers occupying positions on big ships and mega yachts. I’m also seeing more women in senior management positions in Marinas and shipyards,” says Lopez.
The industry – Facts and Numbers
With an average pay of $90,970 per year and an expected growth of 12 percent through 2026, Marine Engineering is a high-demand profession.
Marine technicians are hired for the maintenance, repair, and design of the internal systems of ships, yachts, sailboats and such.
Learn more about job opportunities in Marine Engineering.
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