To celebrate International Women’s Day, we spoke to some of our many female MSC staff members. We wanted to know why they decided to work in the (sustainable) seafood sphere and what challenges they face in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
“Go for it!”
Andrea, Communications Manager for MSC Germany
Andrea is a communications and PR specialist with an extensive track record working for international consumer brands and cultural institutions. She’s always been attracted to topics like sustainability, environmental protection and food, matters that are particularly important for consumers in the German-speaking parts of Europe. The final push Andrea needed to leave the corporate world and join an e-NGO was the desire to user her creativity and time for something both personally and universally important. So she set off to “change the world”, she says.
Even though the fishing industry is traditionally male-oriented Andrea has never regretted joining the MSC. The organisation’s gender diversity means she is actually surrounded by women at her Berlin office. The only problem she’s faced so far is pressure around how you “should act or be” in the male-dominated industry. But the satisfaction and knowledge she has done her bit to make a little bit of difference, make this a very small sacrifice.
“My role can really make a difference”
Laura, MSC Program Director for Spain and Portugal
Laura is a sustainability expert: before joining the MSC she worked for over 10 years in the fair trade sector and on sustainability procurement strategies for both the public and private sector. The MSC’s mission is what attracted her to her current role: “Spain is one of the top fishing and seafood consumption nations, and I thought this role could really make a difference.”
In her daily work, Laura is in contact with many women who have leading roles, from representing producers, public administration, NGOs, to communications and other business areas. “Where I find that representation of women is still very limited is in the fishing sector, in the purchasing departments and at CEO level,” she says. This has led to the formation of several platforms that gather women in the fishing and seafood sector with the aim to share experiences and bring more visibility to women all across Spain.
“With focus and dedication women can make it in the fishing industry”
Yan, Supply Chain Standards Manager
Yan grew up in Malaysia, and the conservation of the waters around Southeast Asia and beyond has always been her passion. “The mission of the MSC to transform the seafood market towards sustainability echoes deeply with me,” says Yan. “To live and eat well we need to manage our food supplies, just like we manage our personal finances.”
Even though the fishing industry is male oriented, Yan steadily sees more and more involvement from women. “During my recent visit to an MSC certified plant in Dong Thap, Vietnam, I met mainly women.” It’s women, not men, who operate the machines, fillet fish and run the board room of the biggest pangasius processor in Vietnam. Those women show confidence in their work, their colleagues and their products and Yan feels empowered by working with them. “Sustainability may be a niche, but with focus, dedication and belief, women as well as men can help make it mainstream.”
“Follow your passion”
Marin, Fisheries Outreach Manager USA
Marin is a fisheries scientist with a Master’s degree and has broad experience working with state fishery management agencies. Her job involves working with fisheries interested in or engaged with the MSC program and to educate stakeholders in her region about the MSC.
“I never had doubts about working in the industry because I knew fish was my passion but I didn’t thoroughly understand how male-dominated the industry was until I began working in it.”
Marin sees being taken seriously by colleagues or partners who are used to working with men as her biggest challenge. But sometimes sticking out, being the only women in a sea of male colleagues, is an advantage. “I view my career and role in the industry as movement in the right direction – to break the mold of seafood being male-dominated.” She urges other women to follow their passion and to stand up for themselves and other women as they pursue their career.