While women have made serious headway in entering male-dominated fields, there are still some that see very little female representation. One of those is sailing. In fact, only 2% of the world's mariners are women. So, to celebrate International Women's Day, Celebrity Cruises is doing a first in the industry: launching a sailing with an entirely female bridge and officer team.
This historic sailing will take place on March 8, 2020, aboard the company's newest ship, Celebrity Edge. Captain Kate McCue, the first American female cruise ship captain, will be at the helm and supported by 26 other women from 17 different countries to create an all-female bridge and officer leadership team. That powerhouse team includes Second Officer Nicholine Tifuh Azirh, who was the first West African woman to ever work on the bridge of a cruise ship when hired in 2017.
"We are all passionate about closing the gender gap," said Celebrity's President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, in a statement. "Over the last few years, we have worked hard to diversify the crew on board and bring more women than ever into our industry. We are fortunate to have many incredible, experienced, and beyond-qualified women who have worked tirelessly to achieve these positions. And we also celebrate the many men who continue to support them and help champion having more women crew on board."
This momentous occasion is part of the brand's #BRIDGEthegap initiative. They were the ones to hire Captain McCue and later announced that 22% of their bridge teams are now made up of women. "Since 2015, we have raised the percentage of qualified women on our navigational bridges from 3% to 22%," Senior Vice President of Global Marine Operations for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Patrik Dahlgren said in a statement. "Now, we hope this all-time industry-high will continue to grow; we just need more women to raise their hands for careers at sea, especially in engineering."
To highlight the importance of women, the sailing will also include themed programming such as art exhibitions and auctions featuring female artists, movie screenings featuring impactful female directors, actors and narratives, a Women of the World-themed trivia challenge, Fearless Female Officers vs. Guests Pool Volleyball tournament, and a Q&A panel with the ship's female leadership team.
"Excitement does not even begin to describe how I'm feeling about working alongside these incredible, barrier-breaking women on Celebrity Edge for this truly historic sailing," said Captain McCue. "I am inspired every day by the amazing women we have working throughout this organization—both on land and at sea. They're proof that there's power in diversity."