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Survey shows support for women in aquaculture

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A recent survey conducted by The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) reveals widespread support for new initiatives that aim to encourage more women to join the aquaculture sector.

The results of the SAIC survey suggest 73 percent of respondents would join a group to provide networking support to others already working, or considering a career, in Scottish aquaculture. Two thirds of respondents agreed that there was a need to raise awareness of women working in the sector through, for example, social media and case studies.

The SAIC survey comes hot on the heels of the publication of the Skills Review for the Aquaculture Sector in Scotland report, which was commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise on behalf of the Aquaculture Industry Leadership Group. The report revealed that the shellfish industry is 87 percent male, while aquaculture-related subjects at school and in further education and training continue to be dominated by males.

Heather Jones, CEO of SAIC, said: “As well as there being women leaders at the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation and trout company Dawnfresh, there are increasing numbers of brilliant and talented younger women working in aquaculture. But we need to showcase and highlight their progress in scientific, technical and academic roles, for the encouragement of others.

“As many women will recognise, there is a real willingness to support and engage with others’ success. Over half of our survey respondents are willing to contribute to a Women in UK Aquaculture Group, with over 40 percent willing to offer mentoring to another woman, and another 40 percent happy to provide advice or guidance to others in the group.

“It’s because of this level of support that we are now in the process of bringing interested parties together to get a group up and running, with a view to the industry taking it on to drive it forward. While the situation won’t change overnight, we are hopeful that in five or 10 years’ time this initiative will have had a real and positive impact.”

Tracy Bryant-Shaw, HR Director at Scottish Sea Farms, added: “Attracting more women into our company is something we’ve been working hard on in recent years, with great results. Already this year, two of our female employees have been named Finfish Farm Manager of the Year and Rising Star – accolades we hope will inspire others to consider a career with us. So we are fully supportive of this new initiative to encourage, support and develop women at sector-level.”