Commissioners encourage more women to join the industry

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May 18 marks International Day for Women in Maritime, an occasion with significant meaning for Port of Tacoma Commissioners Kristin Ang and Deanna Keller.  

Both say it’s important to encourage more women to join the maritime industry. 

“Go for it. We need more women. These are great jobs, these are great opportunities, said Commission President Ang. Environmental justice, economic development, commercial, engineering, you want to build a crane, you want to build our terminals, it’s all right here, and we’re also part of the clean energy transition.” 

Commissioner Keller talked about reaching out to women at career fairs as they walked past the Port’s booth.  

‘Come here, you need to take a look at something like this,” Commissioner Keller recalled saying. “A lot of them didn’t know. They've never had the ability to be around people who've been part of this sort of industry. 

With a wave of retirements coming, the maritime and trades industries need new workers, and developing career pipelines is a key focus for the Port of Tacoma. 

Commissioner Keller said she recently heard from a business owner looking for welders. “They need aluminum welders and women are just as capable to be filling in those roles as men.” 

The Port supports the Youth Marine Center, provides regular tours to high school students, is partnering with Workforce Central on a program to place workers in the trades, and is collaborating with Tacoma Public Schools, which will build the Maritime|253 skills center as part of the new Port Maritime Center. Martime|253 will provide career and technical education to high school students from across Pierce County, free of charge. 

Commissioners Ang and Keller are among many women leaders at the Port of Tacoma, including all three of the Port’s C-level executives and several department directors. The women of the Port gathered in May for a group photo.

In 2024, Commissioner Kristin Ang serves as President of the Port of Tacoma Commission and Co-Chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, along with Port of Seattle Commission President Hamdi Mohamed. 

“Two women of color are leading the largest gateways, the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle, that’s amazing, that’s a lot of progress,” Commissioner Ang said.