The Scottish Fisheries Museum brought together inspiring women of the fishing industry on International Woman’s Day.
From the head of the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation to a Deckhand from just over the road in Pittenweem, there was a vast range of experience throughout International Woman’s Day on Sunday the 8th of March 2020. Chaired by Karen Seath, a trustee at the museum with her own amazing marine career, the event was a massive success with much food for thought in what the future holds for Women of the Fishing Industry.
Speaking on this glorious and sunny Sunday afternoon we had Dr Marie Smedley, the Senior Breeding Programme Manager at Xelect in St Andrews. Marie is also a member of the group Women in Scottish Aquaculture (WiSA) that supports women in the Aquaculture sector. Also speaking, we had the CEO of the Scottish Fisherman’s Federation, Elspeth Macdonald. She spoke about her lifelong connection to the sea and the full circle her career has taken her on to now land in this high-profile role.
Hannah Fennell is a Senior Social Researcher at the Scottish Government, she spoke about her previous role with the Orkney Green Strategy and research she was doing into the Women and how they support fishermen in this area. She showed the amazing truth that the Women of Orkney pour around £200,000 of unpaid work into the industry. Moya Crawford, Director of Deeptek topped off the first half of the afternoon sharing her years of experience with our eager eared audience and fellow speakers.
Perhaps the most frank and inspirational talk came from Elaine Christie who is the first ever female member of the Fisherman’s Mutual Association (FMA). She found new love both in the form of her current partner, and through him, sailing and fishing. She has now been working at the prawns and sea clams for 3 years.
We rounded off the talks with Kara Brydson, the executive director at Fisheries Innovation Scotland (FIS). She comes from a farming background but bucked the trend and found herself working with marine industries and then at FIS. She wrapped up by posing a very strong question and one quite important to this industry… “If we don’t achieve a 50/50 gender balance ‘at the fishing’, are we failing?” The speakers then gathered for a panel session where they put forward their thought on questions posed. The afternoon ended with discussion of an action plan. What are we going to do to support and encourage women in the fishing industry and how are we going to do it? A question left on everyone’s minds as they left feeling energized and empowered.
“It was a privilege to share a platform with such inspirational women, and to hear their stories and their career journeys. I hope we can build on this day to encourage more women and girls into these industries, with the wide range of opportunities they present.” Elspeth Macdonald, CEO, SFF