The stereotypical image of the port being solely the domain of tough dockworkers should gradually be tossed aside. Let's hear from some women who provide insight into their jobs on or by the water.

Project Olivia changes course

With Project Olivia, the Agency for Maritime Services and Coast aims to encourage women to consider careers in the maritime sector. Katty Cypers explains, "Olivia has been the most popular name for newborn girls for over five years. We want to inspire all those Olivias to choose a job on or by the water in the future: from pilot to ferry captain, and from project engineer to nautical traffic controller."

Saving lives

Wendy Devrieze works as a nautical traffic controller at the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre (MRCC). "You can compare the centre with the 112 emergency hotline. When something goes wrong at sea, it's reported to us: ship collisions, diving accidents, incidents in wind farms... Together with my colleague traffic controllers, we coordinate all those rescue operations at sea."


Watch the video (in Dutch) below to see how Wendy's workday unfolds.

Working at heights

Carola (33) operates cranes at PSA's Noordzee Terminal in Antwerp. As a crane operator, she spends her days in a cabin about 50 meters high. From there, she controls the crane, moving containers and other cargo from the dock to ships and vice versa.


Additionally, Carola can often be found behind the wheel of various other large machines at the terminal, such as straddle carriers, forklifts, and terminal tractors. She says, "I love the variety of operating different machines. I enjoy the outdoors. Both my father and grandfather were dockworkers, so I practically grew up in the port. Being behind the wheel of a heavy vehicle makes me feel completely satisfied!"

Enkel te gebruiken in kader van Portpeople.

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Liaison between shore and ship

Sab (35) is a water clerk at S5 North Europe in Antwerp. A water clerk serves as the liaison between shore and ship. They're an employee of a shipping company or ship agency who handles all the organizational and administrative matters before a ship enters (and leaves) the port.


Based on the ship's schedule and communication with the captain, Sab knows exactly when a ship will arrive at the port of Antwerp. To ensure smooth and safe arrival, she coordinates everything with pilots, tugboats, maritime police, customs, and terminals. She also caters to all the ship's needs, arranging necessary documents and permits, as well as crew changes, medical examinations, fuel deliveries, provisions, and much more. Sab's responsibilities are diverse and extend beyond a single location, as she works both ashore and aboard with the crew.

Waterklerk Sab

Driven by the port

Els (48) handles administration and operations at the Port of Antwerp-Bruges in Zeebrugge. Supporting the Harbour master's office, arranging orders for nautical operations, managing long-term planning, or overseeing the operational setup of scheduled cruises... These are just a few of the wide range of tasks. Els faces new challenges every day with enthusiasm.


The dynamics of the profession and the ups and downs of the port world give Els the satisfaction of giving her best every day. "Even if the schedule is set in advance, things can still change last minute. I've been working in the port for 25 years now. I know it like the back of my hand. Yet, my interest is still piqued by new events in the port world and shipping. So, to work in the port, you really have to be 'driven' by it!"


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