Kalmar Maritime Academy: New Research Project To Reduce Risk Of Harassment At Sea

The shipping industry’s MeToo call #lättaankar [anchors aweigh] brought commitment from the industry. Now a new research project at Kalmar maritime academy will map out methods and strategies for reducing the risk of negative special treatment within the shipping industry.

The shipping industry, like other lines of business, is not exempt from stories of sexual harassment and negative special treatment. Working at sea, often for months at a time, means that a person who is subjected to harassment has difficulties to withdraw and little opportunity to get support.

The shipping industry’s MeToo call #lättaankar united 1,150 women seafarers and has brought commitment from the industry. Up until now, the focus has been on reporting rather than prevention of negative special treatment. A new research project at Kalmar maritime academy at Linnaeus University – Practical work environment management for an equal shipping industry – intends to change this.

Seafarer mental health
Representation Image – Credits: seafarerswelfare.org

“We want to achieve change, in the short term as well as in the long term. We want to contribute to a safe, efficient, and equal shipping industry, where everyone’s competence and skills are made the most of”, says Cecilia Österman, senior lecturer in maritime science, who together with her colleague Magnus Boström will work on the project.

The project will identify, evaluate, and compile existing methods and strategies for reducing the risk of negative special treatment. What works, why, and under what circumstances? The evaluation will be carried out together with a reference group with representatives from shipping companies, employee organisations, and networks of professionals within the shipping industry. It is expected that this broad basis will make it easier to implement the measures in the shipping industry.

The research project has been granted SEK 1.2 million in funds from AFA Försäkring and will go on for two years, until January 2021.

“I feel a mixture of great joy and humility for the task. We did not dare to hope that the project would be granted funds, but now we very much look forward to getting started”, says Cecilia Österman.

“We have both worked at sea earlier in our careers, Magnus as a deck officer and I as a marine engineer. We are really passionate about contributing to making a fantastic industry even better!”, Cecilia Österman concludes.

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