On the 8th of March 1911, the world was first introduced to International Women’s Day. Fast-forward 109 years, and we’re about to celebrate the biggest International Women’s Day yet. If the women who attended the first IWD were still alive today, I’d say they would be quite proud of how far society has progressed in women’s rights. In this day and age, you see women break into job roles and opportunities that were previously out of reach for women. This is a sentiment that ITEC North East have at the forefront of our minds. Giving women equal opportunity is vital for young women who are looking to work in typically male-dominated job roles.
One of our new members of staff, Dawn Kipling, is a woman who has spent her entire professional career breaking gender norms. After her O-Levels she stayed in school to do Biology, Chemistry and Physics A-levels, being the only girl in the physics class of 30. Dawn Left home at 18 to go to University at Leeds where she studied Zoology and was first introduced to Electron Microscopy. Dawn took this further when she graduated to do an MSc in Biological Electron Microscopy at the University of Wales in Aberystwyth where she was one of two women in the cohort. Whilst living and working in Aberystwyth she met her husband and they got married and gave birth to their Son.
During the Mid 1990s, Dawn and her new family moved back up to the North East to be near her parents, where she took the decision to go back to university. Dawn started a postgraduate diploma in Computer-Based Information Systems at the University of Sunderland in 1998. Juggling caring for her 2-year-old son with completing a course that included AI, programming in C++ and the full office suite of programmes. Once Dawn had completed the computing course she started working as the Network Manager to a school in Newcastle, a job that entailed maintaining all of the software and hardware within two separate sites. This included networking classrooms and building computers along with troubleshooting software issues and installing/updating all software.
At the beginning of the 21st Century, Dawn and her husband made a decision to expand their family and where Dawn took a break from work to have her Daughter. Dawn chose to be a stay at home mum until she started school, taking the opportunity to learn to drive in the year before she went to full-time education.
In 2007 Dawn took up the role as an IT technician in a school in Durham, joining a team that was mostly male. During the 7 years that she worked there, Dawn helped network an entire classroom, installing a mile of cables in a weekend. Built computers from scratch, installed ducting on the walls to hold cables, PAT tested the entire site every summer. Dawn also had sole control of the Printer reports every month, supported teachers in the classrooms and spent every day doing something new and unexpected.
After 7 years in this role, Dawn took another change of direction going to Durham University to do a PGCE in secondary science to become a Science teacher. Dealing with her Son going through his A-levels and her daughter starting secondary school at the same time was a challenge. For four and a half years Dawn was a Supply Teacher, teaching mostly science but also taking lessons in Spanish, PE, computing and most other subjects within many different schools. A job that has allowed Dawn to help many young women come to realise that they are capable of many things if they put their mind to it. Since December Dawn has been working at ITEC NE as a Tutor, teaching IT skills to those who need them, using her wide range of experience and knowledge to the best advantage.
As you can see from reading about Dawn’s experiences, throughout the majority of her life she’s found herself in environments that are traditionally for males and she’s exceeded them. Showing that ignorance is nothing more than ignorance. Dawn’s outlook on choosing her career is a sentiment we want all of our female learners to have. There are no barriers. If you want a career which isn’t traditionally set out for a female, there’s nothing wrong with that. We encourage it.
If you’re interested in applying for an apprenticeship you can apply at https://www.itecne.co.uk/vacancies/.
To read more about International Women’s Day please visit https://www.internationalwomensday.com/.