In the maritime sector, seafaring has been predominantly a male industry. The industry had developed its own culture which denied or precluded women's participation. This paper draws on the data and analysis of the Gender, Empowerment and Multi-cultural Crew (GEM) Project, an international study aiming to examine seafarers’ welfare, focusing on gender issues arising from a multi-cultural crew environment in three countries: China, Nigeria and the UK. The main research findings, which relate to China, are reported under the headings of motivation, training, employment opportunities and barriers, and career prospects for women. The paper concludes with a discussion on an important new state policy concerning gender equality in university recruitment and with recommendations to move things forward.