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Shipping’s Attempt to Hire More Women Runs Into a Macho Culture

Nov. 23, 2022, 12:00 PM

People often want to take photos of Taalke Middents on the container vessels she helps helm through ports and passages like the Suez Canal. That’s because she’s a rarity in maritime shipping: a female officer.

When local pilots climb aboard to assist the crew in navigating the hulking ships in tight spaces, they’re often taken aback, but mostly welcoming, said Middents, a chief officer with Hamburg, Germany-based Hapag-Lloyd AG, the world’s No. 5 container carrier.

As chief officer, Middents is second in command to the captain. On her most recent trip on the 368-meter (1,207 feet) Brussels Express, ...