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On International Women’s Day we would like to stop and reflect on why we do what we do, and to celebrate the amazing women within our knowledgeable and passionate seaweed community, as well as iconic female figures in the industry.

The economic participation of women and the empowerment of young women and girls is a key, non-negotiable driver of OCEANIUM’s long term impact and raison d’être.

The seaweed farming industry has huge potential for women’s economic empowerment.

Women play a vital role in aquaculture, with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation reporting that women make up 70% of the aquaculture workforce worldwide[1]. Enabling the seaweed industry will create new opportunities across the value chain in the western hemisphere as well as the developing world.  

OCEANIUM now measures and will report on UN SDG 5 (gender equality) alongside five other SDGs. You can read more about our plan in our impact report.

“Seaweed farming as an economic empowerment tool for women was one of the key factors that attracted me to seaweed and that is why SDG 5 (gender equality) is such an important part of our impact strategy.” – Karen Scofield Seal, OCEANIUM, Co-Founder and CEO

Our amazing team is 45% women.

Our team is a very talented and passionate group of scientists, engineers, materials innovation, marketing and commercialisation experts. 

60% of our suppliers are either women-led or have trailblazing women as part of their leadership team.

By commercializing and launching our seaweed-based products, we can be turnkey buyers of farmed seaweed at scale from female-owned farms, supporting women-owned businesses, female stewardship of our natural resources and economic diversification for women in rural coastal communities susceptible to climate change.

30% of our investors are women or women-led funds.

We’re so proud to be backed by amazing, knowledgeable investors who are committed to our mission, and to have nearly a third of our investors who are women or women-led in a funding environment where 1.9% goes to women-led businesses and women represent just 13% of senior people on UK investment teams according to the Rose Review.

And 50% of OCEANIUM’s board are women.

We want to contribute to a seaweed industry that is accessible and beneficial for everyone and has far-reaching societal and environmental impacts.

On this day, we’re delighted to announce that Karen Scofield Seal (OCEANIUM, Co-Founder & CEO) has been selected as a finalist for the prestigious Veuve Clicquot, Bold Woman Awards which celebrates the long-standing commitment to female leadership.

“I’m incredibly honoured to have been selected as a finalist for the Bold Woman Awards. Providing economic empowerment for women and girls was what interested me in seaweed in the first place and it is where I would like OCEANIUM to be in the near future, bringing new jobs, a food source and economic empowerment to the developing world. We are focusing on scale up of technology in Europe and then plan to quickly replicate and scale in partnership with communities and local stakeholders in the northern and southern hemispheres.”

I am a newcomer in the seaweed world so I would like to pay homage to the many women in this industry including marine scientists that have been conducting research for decades and seaweed farmers who were pioneers here in the west. It is their years of research and hard work that has brought seaweed to the fore. There’s always more we can do to ensure a diverse and inclusive seaweed industry and we’re looking forward to scaling up to achieve this.” – Karen Scofield Seal (Co-Founder & CEO, OCEANIUM)

Here’s some examples of trailblazing women in the seaweed history!

Anna Atkins (1799 – 1871) botanist and photographer who documented aquatic plant-life including algae. The picture collection she created of algae cyanotypes became the first photography book ever produced.

Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker (6 November 1901 – 14 September 1957) was a British phycologist, known for her research on the edible seaweed Porphyra laciniata (nori), which led to a breakthrough for commercial cultivation, particularly in Japan. She was also the co-founder and first elected president of the British Phycological Society. There is even a memorial of Kathleen Mary Drew-Baker in Uto, Japan where she remains celebrated for her contributions.

[1] FAO, 2015