Mentoring program seeks to match experience and potential of women in Scottish aquaculture

Published on
January 3, 2020

Women in Scottish Aquaculture (WiSA) is launching a new, Scottish government-supported mentoring program this month to kick off the new year, the organization announced.

The program sets out to match up some of the most influential leaders in aquaculture with women aspiring to grow their careers and skills within the sector. Core to the program are one-to-one sessions aimed at providing both mentees and mentors with training and support, WiSA said. Program participants will meet in this capacity over several months, focusing on creating a network, making career decisions, cultivating leadership styles, and building confidence.

WiSA is in the process of looking for senior aquaculture professionals to act as mentors for the program’s first cohort. The organization is also searching for women “looking to enhance their aquaculture careers to take on the role of mentee.” Interested parties have until 10 January to apply.

“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 program, 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,” WiSA Co-Chair Charlotte Maddocks said in a press release announcing the program, which will be delivered in partnership with Skillfluence.

Organization of the new mentorship program was based off of responses WiSA received from a SAIC (Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre) consultation of 200 people serving in the aquaculture sector. Ninety-percent of participants in the consultation said they would be interested in “a network of support for women working, or considering a career in, the industry,” WiSA found, and more than three-quarters of respondents expressed an interest in joining the group.

Launched last year on International Women’s Day, WiSA has already earned government support – at the Association of Scottish Shellfish Growers Conference back in October 2019, the Scottish government announced a GBP 20,000 (USD 26,144, EUR 23,453) investment commitment to the organization. The funding is being used – combined with an additional GBP 30,000 (USD 39,220, EUR 35,185) of industry sponsorship – 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,” WiSA said.

“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,” Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre CEO Heather Jones added. “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.”

Anyone of any gender who is studying or working in Scottish aquaculture is welcome to become a WiSA member. Major Scottish 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 the collaborative effort.  

Photo courtesy of Women in Scottish Aquaculture

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