At the Helm: Driving diversity in the marine workplace

By Adam Quandt

Prior to World War I, three-fourths of all women employed in manufacturing were making apparel or its materials, food or tobacco products, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. During the war, the number of women in the workforce began to increase, as did their opportunities across occupations.

In 1920, 20% of the U.S. labor force was made up of women. According to the Department of Labor, today women make up about 47% of the workforce in the United States. Also in 1920 by Public Law No. 66-259, the Women’s Bureau was established as a part of the U.S. Department of Labor, bringing forward the duty to “formulate standards and policies which shall promote the welfare of wage-earning women, improve their working conditions, increase their efficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable employment.”

Over the last 100 years, the Women’s Bureau has been identifying topics working women care about most, researching said issues and delivering innovative policies and programs to address them.

U.S. Department of Labor statistics report that the percentage of women working in a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupation has risen from 7% in 1970 to 27% in 2019.

As we look across today’s recreational boating industry, we see more and more diversity and women leading the charge to a successful future for boating, in all aspects of the marine workforce – from the executive team to engineering and design, and everything in between.

While we know the industry still has room to grow and improve in diversity, we at Boating Industry are excited and proud to report on the every-changing industry we see before us in today’s world.

Every year for the last five years, Boating Industry has made an effort to shine a spotlight on some of these women through its annual Women Making Waves award program. The program today welcomes hundreds of nominations from the industry at large and highlights 25-30 women who have made and continue to make great contributions to the industry every year.

In an effort to further elevate the Women Making Waves program, as of 2022, the program is now a part of Boating Industry’s Top 100 Awards – a level of achievement honoring the best of the best of the entire recreational boating industry.

This year, I’m extremely excited and proud to say that this year’s issue honoring the Women Making Waves goes beyond that and the entire issue is dedicated to the women making a difference in and leading the recreational boating industry.

While we wish we could highlight every single woman in the industry, as you thumb (or click) through the pages of this issue you’ll read about women from every segment of the industry from manufacturers to dealers in just about every role in the workforce from executive leadership to technicians and more.

They all bring different backgrounds from growing up in the industry to some fresh faces, but one thing remains the same among many; they’ve developed an unfathomable passion for the marine industry and are pushing the industry forward with immense strength and fortitude.

Congratulations to the Women Making Waves class of 2022 and here’s to all of the women across our amazing industry! 

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