'Talent is talent regardless of gender'


The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy:

(KINGS POINT, N.Y.) (March 30) — Last week, the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in conjunction with the U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd) hosted the seventh annual Women on the Water (WOW) Conference. The annual conference, which is hosted by a different U.S. maritime academy each year, brought together over 125 maritime professional mariners and maritime academy cadets.

The three-day conference began with opening remarks from Maritime Administrator Paul Jaenichen.  He welcomed the audience of mostly women by thanking the attendees. He said, “Thank you for your interest in a strong and diverse maritime community, and thank you for taking the right steps to promote your personal growth and career development.”

Jaenichen went on to explain: “Today, our nation relies on maritime transportation more than ever before — oceangoing vessels carry nearly 70 percent of U.S. foreign trade, barge tows provide crucial links in our domestic energy supply chain, and U.S.-flag commercial vessels crewed by American merchant mariners provide a logistic supply line to allow for global protection of our armed forces. Our industry is a robust national asset — and it is critical that we remain so in the future. That means attracting the very best people to pursue maritime careers. Yes, when you look around the industry, men are clearly in the majority — but talent is talent regardless of gender. Our industry needs to fully leverage the diversity of thought, character, courage and commitment that women have to offer. MarAd understands that a more diverse and inclusive work force will give rise to a stronger and more prosperous maritime industry.”

The conference, which was held in Ackerman Auditorium, gave attendees, midshipmen and cadets the opportunity to learn about some of the many exciting careers that are available to them at graduation and beyond. They learned valuable skills such as “Decoding the Gender Gaps” from Raleigh Mayer and “Media Relations” from Dr. Joseph Trahan III. They also heard about current issues affecting the maritime industry, from professional mariners and military officers. Panelists discussed topics ranging from “Afloat Employment” and “Mentoring” to “Cyber Security” and “Work-Life Balance."

The keynote speaker was retired Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry. Landry, who is the currently the director of incident management and preparedness at Coast Guard headquarters, spoke about her experiences serving active duty with the USCG before joining the Coast Guard's Senior Executive Service. She discussed how her experience as federal on-scene coordinator in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and during the response to the historic 2011 Mississippi River Valley floods, led her to her current role in which she is responsible for establishing, developing and implementing all hazards-incident management goals, strategies, policies and doctrine to meet Coast Guard responsibilities in incident preparedness and response. 

During her speech she encouraged the cadets to “respect your individuality and the choices you make.” Looking at the assembly of students and professionals, she went on to say, “I have the greatest respect for the career you have chosen. You have great role models.” She reminded the midshipmen and cadets, “When you are five or 10 years out, don’t forget to mentor others."

After Landry’s inspirational speech, Rear Adm. Sue Dunlap, deputy superintendent, presented her with a framed replica of the USMMA Battle Standard.

By Professional Mariner Staff