The scheme – to be delivered in partnership with Skillfluence – will match some of the most influential leaders in aquaculture with aspiring women in the sector looking to develop their careers and skills.
The programme aims to provide training and support for both mentees and mentors through one-to-one sessions. Participants in the programme will meet over several months to develop skills such as creating a network, making career decisions, cultivating leadership styles and building confidence.
For its first cohort, WiSA is now looking for senior aquaculture professionals to act as mentors, as well as women looking to enhance their aquaculture careers to take on the role of mentee.
Charlotte Maddocks, co-chair of WiSA, said: “WiSA mentoring is about matching the experience of one person with the potential of another. We are looking for female mentees, as well as female and male mentors, from across the industry who want to make a difference by taking part in the programme, helping us encourage and nurture aquaculture’s next generation of female leaders. Being a mentor can be an incredibly rewarding experience, contributing to professional development and helping to shape the industry’s future.”
Launched on International Women’s Day 2019, WiSA is a collaborative initiative and follows a Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) consultation of 200 people working in the sector. Ninety percent of the respondents were keen to see a network of support for women working, or considering a career in, the industry and more than three-quarters expressed an interest in joining the group.
Earlier this year, the Scottish Government announced a £20,000 investment commitment to WiSA at the Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers annual conference. Combined with an additional £30,000 of industry sponsorship, the funding is being used to encourage more women to enter the sector, provide a supportive network across industry and academia, and support partners to harness the potential of women in aquaculture.
Heather Jones, CEO of SAIC, added: “Supporting women in playing a more prominent role in aquaculture is a vital step in helping the industry to grow. The mentoring programme is the first of many initiatives that will help us to build capacity, confidence and capability amongst women working in Scottish aquaculture.
“Diversity matters and equality is a universal value that Scotland champions. SAIC is proud to be a founding member of the WiSA network and we are committed to delivering positive change through this initiative.”
WiSA membership is open to anyone, of any gender, studying or working in Scottish aquaculture. Many of Scotland’s major producers – including Grieg Seafood, Cooke Aquaculture, the Scottish Salmon Company, Mowi, Loch Duart and Scottish Sea Farms – have joined forces to pledge their support for this ground-breaking collaboration network.
If anyone is interested in becoming a WiSA mentor or mentee, they can apply by 10 January at: https://wisa.scottishaquaculture.com/.