The UN Ocean Decade and the IHO join forces to change the gender climate in hydrography

Published: 17/10/2022 - 16:33

As part of its mission to induce “transformative ocean science solutions for sustainable development, connecting people and our ocean”, the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (UN Ocean Decade) has endorsed the IHO’s Empowering Women in Hydrography (EWH) project as an Ocean Decade Action.

The EWH project addresses two of the UN Ocean Decade challenges:

Challenge 9: Skills, knowledge, and technology for all

Challenge 10: Change humanity’s relationship with the ocean

These challenges acknowledge the lack of diversity and inclusiveness in the field of ocean science. The endorsement is recognition of the role the Empowering Women in Hydrography project can play in bringing about vital behavioural change in the field and in delivering skills and knowledge to women at all levels. By raising awareness about career opportunities in hydrography and working to increase the number of women in leadership positions, the project will open the field to a vast pool of talent that will potentially contribute new perspectives, skills, and creativity to the world of hydrographic sciences.

Men have historically dominated activities related to the oceans and various studies show that they continue to do so.  The IHO recently collected baseline data from 38 of its Member States which reveals that men hold 81% of the leadership roles in the combined hydrographic offices and make up approximately 84% of total staff. Out of 9282 employees, 1469 are women, and only 245 of these occupy leadership roles. The numbers highlight the disparity between men and women in high-level roles.


 Total number of employees vs. total number of women employees

Total number of leaders vs. women in leadership roles

In the field of hydrography in general, figures reveal that less than 10% of national hydrographers leading the respective national hydrographic office are women. The IHO plans to use this data to measure progress in gender balance within Member States.

The EWH project began in 2021. Since then, it has launched ongoing activities such as the implementation of a study of the numbers of women in leadership positions, internships, training opportunities, mentorships, and workshops to raise awareness about different topics such as careers, career development, and workplace challenges. This endorsement links the project to the Empowering Women for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development programme.


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Last modified: 20/10/2022 - 10:09