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June 12, 2023

The maritime industry has long been considered a field predominantly populated by men historically, but the tides are turning as women are making their mark and reshaping the industry. Recently, our Training Coordinator, Danielle Pinksen, had the privilege of attending a conference dedicated to gender diversity and inclusion in the maritime sector, the CWOIL (Canadian Women in Ocean Industries Leadership). In this blog post, I will share her conversations with two remarkable women, Leann Collins and Cathy Hogan-Dixon, who are actively involved in promoting and empowering women in the maritime industry. Their insights and experiences shed light on the challenges faced by women and the importance of supporting and mentoring the next generation. 

Creating a Sense of Belonging 

Leann Collins, the Director of Projects and Stakeholder Relations at the Association of British Columbia Marine Industries, emphasized the significance of events like the conference. As a woman who has often found herself as the only female in the room, Leann expressed the comfort and empowerment that comes from being in a space filled with like-minded women. The conference provided a sense of belonging and created a platform for engaging discussions on gender diversity and inclusion. 

Mentorship and Empowering the Next Generation: 

Leann also stressed the importance of mentoring younger women as they navigate their studies and embark on their careers. By sharing their experiences and wisdom, seasoned professionals can guide, inspire, and encourage the next generation of women in the maritime industry. Mentorship programs play a vital role in bridging the gap and empowering women to thrive in traditionally male-dominated roles. 

Overcoming Challenges and Encouraging Persistence: 

Cathy Hogan-Dixon, the Executive Director of OceansAdvance Inc., and the organizer of the conference, shared her personal journey of working in the industry alongside her role as a conference organizer. She acknowledged the challenges faced by women in shipbuilding and related fields and encouraged women not to give up. Cathy’s advice was simple yet powerful: 

“women should not be afraid to speak up and tell their stories.” 

By raising awareness about women’s obstacles, progress can be made in eliminating gender biases and improving working conditions. 

Inspirational Panel Discussions

The conference featured numerous panel discussions that showcased inspirational women who have succeeded in the maritime industry. These discussions were not only about the achievements of individual women but also about the broader issues of gender diversity and inclusion. The panels shed light on women’s experiences, challenges, and triumphs in the industry, creating awareness and fostering a spirit of solidarity. 

While the conference focused on gender diversity and inclusion in the maritime industry as a whole, it is worth mentioning the significant role played by the Canadian Women in Ocean Industries Leadership (CWOIL) initiative. CWOIL aims to increase women’s leadership and contribution to the industry by fostering a diverse talent pipeline. By promoting greater participation in ocean industries through a work-action plan, CWOIL, and its partners strive to create a more inclusive and equal maritime industry. 


The maritime industry is undergoing a significant transformation, thanks to the efforts of women like Leann Collins and Cathy Hogan-Dixon, as well as the countless women who are breaking barriers and making their presence felt. Events and conferences dedicated to gender diversity and inclusion play a crucial role in creating awareness, fostering a sense of community, and providing mentorship opportunities. It is through the collective efforts of individuals and organizations that we can pave the way for a more inclusive and equal maritime industry, where women can thrive and contribute their talents to shape the future of this vital sector. 

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