WJ Editorial
WJ Editorial

WIMOs Efforts Will Help Boost Recruiting

Anyone who reads The Waterways Journal will often come across the phrase that ours is a “relationship-based business.” Suppliers and salespeople use it, as do river veterans being honored at award banquets, christenings and dinners and at events like the Inland Marine Expo. In profiles of inland mariners, advocates and other important figures in our world, some of the most interesting stories are about personal relationships—the family member or mentor who encouraged someone, the chance visit to a towboat that resulted in a lifelong career, the friend who recommended a summer job or the job change that opened up new possibilities.

That’s why the work of Women in Maritime Operations (WIMOs) is so important for the future of our profession. Women have traditionally had fewer pathways into the profession, and those mostly led to administrative positions. Put simply, fewer women than men know someone likely to encourage them to take a look at a career on the water.

Since its foundation in 2017 as an organization designed to educate, engage and elevate women working in maritime fields, WIMOs Association has grown to more than 1,000 members representing more than 250 companies.

WIMOs members deal with two layers of invisibility. The inland waterways, along with maritime professions in general, are invisible to a big swath of the population. Waterways advocacy organizations are used to continually addressing that gap with outreach, education and events.

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Within the profession, women are dispelling another kind of invisibility as they slowly make their way into jobs in the wheelhouses and enginerooms as well as back offices.

WIMOs is poised to continue growing its services by working with maritime academies and universities and colleges that have maritime departments or offer degrees in a maritime-related program. The WIMOs mentorship program is pairing mentors and protégés to help pass on knowledge. These programs benefit the industry as a whole, whether by increasing the pool of recruits or helping retain and promote valuable employees as they continue to increase their job skills.