This year, the theme was "Women and Manufacturing" and in the Chair's welcome, Margaret Boyd highlighted, "Manufacturing in Scotland is seriously depleting and the closure of Halls in Broxburn is not going to help. Women in factories around Scotland have the same issues as women in any other sector - childcare, shift patterns, longer hours, domestic abuse, maternity, lower pay, as well as working and caring for disabled children, and elderly parents".
Conference delegates take their seats.
It was noted that "manufacturing provides over 65% of Scottish exports and nearly all our research and development investment". In addition, it was recognised that it is "a force for social cohesion; it spreads jobs around the country and these are often the middle skill, middle income jobs that help to cement communities."
The motion went on to outline, " too few women are employed in the management and research functions of Scotland's manufacturing enterprises and attrition rates amongst Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics women students and graduates means a loss of valuable skills to the economy. Further we note that there is insufficient data available about the employment patterns, workplace health concerns, and other issues with regard to gender and manufacturing."
In conclusion, there was agreement for the Scottish Government to be urged to resource an investigation into the gender issues restricting growth and/or jeopardising the sustainability of Scottish manufacturing. It was also agreed to promote Scottish manufacturing and to work with all concerned to encourage diversity in the workplace".
Through networking at the information stalls, I heard about the efforts of various organisations including the Scottish Resource Centre for Women in Science, Technology and Engineering, to support women in manufacturing. Women have a crucial role in the development of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, and this is been assisted by WIRES (Women in Renewable Energy Scotland).
There has to be continuing support given to women in manufacturing and a commitment by all levels of government to maximise women's involvement in our science, technology and engineering sectors.
Closing the Gap - http://www.closethegap.org.uk/
WIRES (Women in Renewable Energy Scotland) - http://www.wirescotland.com/
Tapping all our Talents by Royal Society of Edinburgh - http://www.royalsoced.org.uk/news/news.php?id=103
Watch the video of Women's Employment Summit, September 2012 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lytJqhQ_Y3o
Scottish Resource Centre for Women in Science, Technology and Engineering - http://www.napier.ac.uk/research/centresandprojects/src/Documents/SRC-Marketing-Brochure-2011.pdf