Els Roeterink: Positive developments in maritime industry’s gender balance

The Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nederland was established in 2000 and comprises members who work at management level in the Dutch maritime industry. Its aim is to inspire, energise, motivate and educate women in the maritime industry, to increase their competence and empower them in their careers.

ECWO posed questions to WISTA’s board members to find out more about working in the maritime industry and why it is an underrated, yet highly attractive, career option for young women. We also asked the board members to share their role models.

For almost 20 years, Els Roeterink has worked at AEGIR-Marine, a brand independent service provider for Sterntube Seals and Propulsion Systems that began as a start-up and now has over 145 colleagues worldwide. Currently responsible for the Communication and Quality within AEGIR-Marine Group worldwide, Roeterink has been a WISTA member since 2009 and WISTA board member since 2019.

If you could imagine the future – say the year 2050 - of the maritime industry, what do you see?

That’s a very interesting question. I started in the maritime industry almost 20 years ago. When I look back, I can see we have experienced some real changes. Of course digitalisation, technical developments and sustainability will also have an effect on the maritime world in the coming years. COVID-19 can also change our vision of the whole trade chain. Are we going to buy more locally to avoid dependence on certain countries in the world? Do we need less transport because of this? I do think we will have (almost) unmanned ships and be sailing on natural resources. Over the last 20 years I have seen really positive developments in the male to female balance in the maritime industry. I hope this develops further towards a good balance worldwide. Of course this will be supported by WISTA.

Who is your role model?

The cell division principle has always very interesting to me and Eckart Wintzen of BSO (now Origin) was the example in this - not a woman, but a very interesting organisational structure and therefore other forms of cooperation. As a female role model, I would definitely choose Karin Orsel from MF Shipping. She is completely herself in all circumstances and with everyone. She is a real entrepreneur, extremely involved, enthusiastic, open and transparent.

More information

The Erasmus Centre for Women and Organisations (ECWO) is committed to women’s continued advancement into leadership positions across multiple sectors – from multinationals and start-ups to not-for-profit organisations. ECWO supports gender-balanced leadership through its management educationresearch and events about gender equality, and by coaching female business leaders. Its strong network leads to women empowerment and gender equality to the benefit of business and society.

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