Women in RKC – Iulia Maria Garbacea, M.Sc. Marketing, University of Salford, UK

These are difficult and scary times, and at least for me, it just highlights how much I depend on the strength of the women in my life to see me through. I pray and hope that all our readers are being safe, taking precautions, practicing social distancing and doing their little bit to fight the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Be safe! 

As we continue with these Women’s Day series of blog posts, we asked some of our students to share their experiences with us – the challenges of getting back to school, of managing work and study along with family, and the unique challenges they faced being female students. 

Ms. Iulia Maria Garbacea

Ms. Iulia Maria Garbacea is one of our student ambassadors and is a graduate of our M.Sc. programme in Marketing through our exclusive partnership with the University of Salford, UK. Let us see what she has to say:

Who is … 

A short profile 

Sahil Devasia (SD): Who are you, really? 

Iulia Maria Garbacea (IMG): I am a 28 year old Romanian woman, living in Bucharest. I am a bit younger than the average graduate (or at least was when I graduated) but would not change it for the world. Professionally, I am working on the implementation of a new ERP project for a big telecom company. 

Getting back into education 

Your story of getting back to do a Master’s degree 

SD: What was the driving force behind your enrolling for an online degree? Who inspired you? What motivated you? 

IMG: Well, I wanted to see how other education systems worked. I did my Bachelor’s in Romania, but for my master’s wanted something different. 

SD: What were the thoughts/situations/people/challenges holding you back from starting (if any)? How did you overcome them? 

IMG: It was intimidating having to balance a full-time job with studies, so it took me some time to decide to go for it. And I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy. I had to do a lot of work on myself – to avoid procrastination, to not be late with submitting my papers, to study on weekends, to take days off so that I could finish my papers. 

SD: What surprised you the most when you started your studies? 

IMG: That I can learn much more by researching articles/topics for my papers than I ever did by memorizing information. 

SD: Do you feel there are unique challenges women face when deciding to get back into education? 

IMG: It depends a lot I think on the period of life in which you decide to go back to school. In my case it was easier, since I did not have anybody else to care for (children) and I could use the free time to focus on my studies. But I think that even if it might be more challenging for women later in life, they are setting an example for their children – studying at any age is possible. I think it is important to invest in our children, by investing in ourselves. 

Getting the degree 

The work to get the degree – what did you learn, how did you balance, what would you do differently 

SD: Which programme did you do? Why? 

IMG: I studied Marketing because I believe this field has a lot of potential. I believe a good marketer is like a psychologist. 

SD: What is the single most important thing you learned during the programme? 

IMG: In my case, the most important lesson was not an academic one, it was one of personal development. I proved to myself that I am smart and determined enough to study in a language different from my own. I also had the luck to meet and make friends with people from around the world at our residency in Zurich. It was so much fun! 🙂 

SD: How did you balance work and studies? 

IMG: This was the most challenging part, especially when writing the dissertation. I worked on my assignments in my spare time, and also sometimes at work. I listened to a looooot of focus music to help keep my mind from wandering. 

SD: Any particular challenges to being a woman and studying online, or do you think all students face the same ones? 

IMG: Personally, I did not feel like I had it harder than my male colleagues. It was a very gender-neutral environment. We were all students in front of the professors. 

Life post degree 

What changed, if anything? 

SD: What’s new in your life since graduating / starting your studies? Any visible impact already? 

IMG: I switched from a more commercial role, into a more IT-focused position. 

SD: Anything you are doing differently now because of the things you learned? 

IMG: Yes, I am able to organize my projects better, to keep up with my commitments, and to be on time with delivery. 

SD: Do you feel that getting a Master’s degree or doing other online programmes can reduce gender discrimination in the work place? 

IMG: I feel that any type of studies can help reduce gender discrimination in the workplace. As far as I am concerned, the online programmes are a way of keeping up with the modern world. We can do almost anything online nowadays, why not study? As people start working, it is very difficult for them to attend night-schools, or weekend schools if they want to study in parallel. But studying online means that you can listen to courses while commuting, or while taking a break from work. 

Advice for other women 

Or other students, really. 

SD: Imagine you could send a message back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be? 

IMG: It takes a lot of commitment and a lot of hard work, but at the end, the knowledge you gain is something that no one can ever take away from you. Also, those annoying focus music tracks from YouTube – they are a life changer. I still use them today when I need to work on important things. 

SD: Imagine you could send an object back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be? 

IMG: The ‘How to write you dissertation’ handbook – absolutely necessary! 

Closing thoughts 

SD: Anything else you would like to add that could help with the goal of increasing women’s participation/access to a Master’s degree? 

IMG: Just that investing in a woman is an investment in a generation of people. 

Our own little contribution: March Women’s bursaries of up to 2’500 CHF! 

We, at RKC, are proud to play a part in the ongoing efforts in reducing the gender disparity in education. We have already announced a special bursary on the tuition fees for all female applicants during the month of March in celebration of the International Women’s Day, only a few days to go, don’t lose out! #EachforEqual!

If you have been thinking about getting your master’s degree, proving to yourself and others that you CAN do it, now would be a good time to take the plunge. Have a look at our list of programmes and see if we have anything that could help.

Women in RKC – Introducing Derryle M. Rankin – A Double RKC Graduate

As we continue the International Women’s Day series, this week we are talking about Derrylee M. Rankin – a double RKC Graduate. Without further ado, let’s hear her inspirational story. 

Vidhi Kapoor (VK): Who are you, really? 

Derrylee M. Rankin (DMR): Learning is an integral part of growing. My aspiration in life is to continue crafting my passions, building interpersonal relationships and being a leader who leads by example. 

I thrive in culture and commerce environments geared towards outstanding results that lead to profitability and overall success for any organization that I am part of. I prefer to work on tasks that challenge me intellectually.   

Akin to raising my two sons Fabio and Jacob as a single mother; the same dedication was applied to my decision of becoming a Graduate student. I obtained a Master’s Degree in Leading Innovation and Change from York St. John University in York, England and a PG Diploma in International Commercial Law at the University of Salford, Manchester.  [Editor’s note: both degrees in exclusive partnership with RKC] 

VK: Which programme did you do? Why? 

DMR: MA Leading Innovation and Change  

PG Diploma International Commercial Law 

VK: What was the driving force behind your enrolling for an online degree? Who inspired you? What motivated you? 

DMR: For years, I was prevented from receiving promotions or salary increases because I had not obtained a college degree. This was quite stressful and embarrassing as I was capable of doing the job, in fact in some cases I was already doing the job, just not being paid or recognized. 

My two sons were witnessing me working two and sometimes three jobs and I knew it had a negative effect on them.  I was determined to make a positive change in our lives and further my education. 

VK: What were the thoughts/situations/people/challenges holding you back from starting (if any)? How did you overcome them? 

DMR: Unfortunately, I dropped out of college twice due to my struggles as a single parent suffering from depression.  Depression affected my motivation and commitment. The lack of funds and family support was also a factor.  I realized that it was time to find the strength and courage to get my degree and have a positive influence on my two sons. 

VK: Do you feel there are unique challenges women face when deciding to get back into education? 

DMR: My challenge as a woman was a combination of working a fulltime job and raising my children.  I had to find ways to prioritize my school projects, submitting work deadlines on time while handling all of the responsibilities as a fulltime single mother.  There were many long nights. 

VK: Any particular challenges to being a woman and studying online, or do you think all students face the same ones? 

DMR: I believe we all face particular challenges while studying. 

VK: Anything else you would like to add that could help with the goal of increasing women’s participation/access to a Master’s degree? 

DMR: Do your research, ask many questions and seek help from your professors and classmates. 

My professors were extremely helpful and very encouraging, I am forever grateful. 

VK: What surprised you the most when you started your studies? 

DMR: I was surprised by the support that I received from my classmates and professors.  They pushed me to overcome many obstacles.  

VK: What is the single most important thing you learned during the programme? 

DMR: I learned that self-value and confidence come from within.  My classmates and professors were very supportive and inspired me to push forward.  Our group projects also helped me to express myself and contribute my ideas with confidence.  

VK: How did you balance work and studies? 

DMR: I had to do most of my studies at night and on the weekends.  I was also fortunate to be working for a Government Department that offered a few study leave days.  

VK: What’s new in your life since graduating/starting your studies? Any visible impact already? 

DMR: Since graduating I see myself as a worthy individual.  I have been given workforce opportunities that I could not have imagined prior to obtaining my degree. 

VK: Anything you are doing differently now because of the things you learned? 

DMR: Yes, I have improved my leading/management skills.  I communicate much better and always aim to ensure that my objectives are clear and concise. 

VK: Do you feel that getting a Master’s degree or doing other online programmes can reduce gender discrimination in the workplace? 

DMR: Absolutely. 

VK: Imagine you could send a message back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be? 

DMR: Have the confidence to believe in yourself and do not procrastinate. 

 
VK: Imagine you could send an object back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be? 

DMR: My framed Master’s Degree. 🙂

I don’t know about you, but hearing the truly powerful and inspirational stories of these two MALIC graduates (Renata and Derrylee), I feel encouraged and motivated to take bolder steps to make a better life for myself and my family. Watch this space as more motivational stories are coming your way.  

If you too feel a Master’s degree may help improve your career progression opportunities, your self-confidence and self-worth, now’s as good a time as ever to get started. Sure, the times are particularly uncertain these days with half the world on lockdown and the other half biding their time, but we and our University partners are doing our best to support students during this period even adapting the face-to-face requirements to allow for online delivery using technology. Talk to our team of Educational Advisers today and see what we can do for you. 

Women in RKC – Renata Takac, MA Leading Innovation and Change

Dear readers welcome to the women’s Day special series. We reckon that just a day is not enough – so we will be celebrating women, their courage and their achievements throughout this month. I am excited about this series of blogs that we are presenting to you here featuring RKC’s women ambassadors from diverse backgrounds having their own unique story to tell.  

Full disclosure – the students we are featuring on the blog this month are all  RKC ambassadors. The RKC ambassadors programme is an internal project aimed at facilitating prospective students’ decisions about studying with us – ambassadors are not remunerated but decided they wanted to vouch for us and their respective programmes of study. So we must be doing something right! 

We asked a few of our female ambassadors questions about their personal journey before they enrolled for the Master’s programme, their challenges, their struggles and joys. Though we are dedicating this series to women out there, men can probably benefit from the advice too. 

Let’s meet: Renata Takac

Vidhi Kapoor (VK): Who you are, really?  

Renata Takac (RT): Excellent question! I was born in ex-Yugoslavia – now Croatia and spent my childhood in Pakistan. I travelled quite a bit and loved discovering other cultures. I dedicated the first half of my professional life to corporations (marketing and sales), and the second one, since 2006, to human resources and organizational development.  I graduated MALIC [Editor’s note: Master of Arts in Leading Innovation and Change] in 2013, and my next huge step in professional development is a Diploma in Integrative Psychotherapy, which I started three years ago.  

Personally, I am a mother of a grown-up daughter, a wife and a friend. I enjoy sports – I was a marathoner once upon a time, and now I swim, row, etc. I love singing, travel, books and movies and many more. In agreement with this question – who I really am – I enjoy discovering who I am, really, apart from all the mentioned functions and roles.

VK: Which programme did you do? Why? 

RT: I did MALIC, because leadership was my primary interest at that time, and change and innovation were bonuses 🙂 

VK: What was the driving force behind your enrolling for an online degree? Who inspired you? What motivated you? 

RT: Actually my path towards MALIC was several years long – I was looking for a program that would be a good match with my job (coaching, mentoring, training, etc.) and at least partly online. After I chose MALIC, I needed the money to fund it 🙂 so it took me some time to earn it. Finally, after I enrolled, I spent the first several weeks working in Malta; so the start was fiery, but I fell in love with the program and that was it! It’s perhaps an interesting fact that I enrolled in 2011 when I was in my prime – 48 years young. 

VKWhat were the thoughts/situations/people/challenges holding you back from starting (if any)? How did you overcome them? 

RT: I partly answered this in the previous question; once I decided that MALIC was my choice, the only obstacle was money. But I was lucky enough to be able to earn it, and I had my family’s support regarding the idea that such money is well invested.  Besides that, the program, of course, required the time and effort. However, it was such a perfect match with my professional interests that I did it with pleasure. 

VKDo you feel there are unique challenges women face when deciding to get back into education? 

RT: Of course, many. From my experience, I was able to enroll in such a challenging program only after my daughter grew up and I left my previous corporate job. I can imagine it could be much more difficult if I had to fight opposition from family members, or similar. 

VK:  Anything else you would like to add that could help with the goal of increasing women’s participation/access to a Master’s degree? 

RT: I remember one of our female colleagues telling me at the end of the York module [Editor’s note: a one-week residential (face to face) module during an otherwise fully online programme] that she was greatly encouraged to remain with the programme. Before coming to York she was not sure she can continue with the studies and graduate, but that week strengthened her resolve.  

Perhaps sharing other female students’ experiences can encourage others in their belief that they can. 

VKWhat surprised you the most when you started your studies? 

RT: The freedom – the choice of when, how to learn, etc. was great! Furthermore, the teachers’ support and respect for our previous knowledge and experience. 

VKAny particular challenges to being a woman and studying online, or do you think all students face the same ones? 

RT: I did not notice any gender-specific challenges regarding the online study. On the other hand, I did notice that all our professors were male. 

VKWhat is the single most important thing you learned during the programme? 

RT: Oh, that is a difficult one. Perhaps the notion that I can do it! Besides that, the whole programme was so packed with intriguing, real-life related, 21st-century ideas and knowledge. For instance, the idea of ongoing change we discussed in 2012 really quickly transferred to today’s VUCA world. 

VKHow did you balance work and studies? 

RT: At the time of my studies I worked mainly on projects, so I was able to adjust the work to MALIC deadlines. However, now that I think about it, today I work 9-hours workdays and I still manage my psychotherapy studies… so I guess it’s a matter of motivation and dedication. 

VK: What’s new in your life since graduating/starting your studies? Any visible impact already? 

RT: It is important to me that I can support my competencies with a degree in leadership. For many of my clients, a recent master’s degree is decisive because it signifies knowledge in recent leadership studies. 

VKAnything you are doing differently now because of the things you learned? 

RT: Many things – starting from reading (I don’t feel pressure to read the whole book or paper anymore in case I need only part of it), critical thinking, up to the content of my training, the leadership models I mention to my coaching clients, etc. 

VK: Do you feel that getting a Master’s degree or doing other online programmes can reduce gender discrimination in the workplace? 

RT: I would say yes. As long as any program is more accessible, it means it is even more accessible to women, due to usual restrains (demands of the job, family life, etc.). The connection between a Master’s degree and better job opportunities is positive, I guess. 

VK: Imagine you could send a message back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be? 

RT: 1. Enjoy yourself! It is demanding and stretching but at the same time an enjoyable experience. 

2. Use the chance to communicate with the professors. They are great and can help you immensely. 

3. You’ll make some long-term friends (Bert Lee, Brenda Jiaying Hobin, looking at you!) 

4. Make your study visit to York close to the end of the programme. You will know much more and be closer to your research and thesis. 

VK: Imagine you could send an object back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be? 

RT: My witch doll. It is not only a symbol of female power but the message to myself: Be yourself. You’re a survivor!  

Hope you enjoyed reading the first blog in the series celebrating womanhood. I really hope her story draws inspiration and courage in you to take the next big step to transform your career and make your own mark. Just like Renata, you will learn that yes, you can do it! And as she rightly points out, we also believe that sharing other female student’s experiences can help others strengthen their belief that they too can! So share your experience here and let your story be an inspiration for many women Master’s aspirants. 

Next week we will talk about Derrylee M. Rankin, another MALIC graduate and PG Diploma holder in International Commercial Law, sharing her story, so stay tuned! 

P.S.: In case you are wondering, Renata’s MA programme was transitioned into an MBA in Leading Innovation and Change.

International Women’s Day – is that enough?!

One day! – to celebrate the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters in our lives. We say we live in modern times and consider ourselves enlightened and educated, but even now, in many parts of the world women are discriminated against, not being given even basic human freedoms. And I am not just talking about third world countries: even in the so called “first world nations” women are discriminated against, looked at as objects and paid only a fraction of what is paid to a man for the same job.

I do not understand the reason for this discrimination. My father was an officer in the merchant navy, which meant that for most of my childhood he was away at sea and that meant my mother was the one who looked after all our landbound affairs, and I can tell you that if my father was in charge, things wouldn’t have gone nearly as smoothly as they did.

We have made some progress already – things are better today than they were in the past. Women were considered the weaker sex and seen only as a companion, caregiver, housekeeper, cook and breeder. Men on the other hand were stronger, the hunter, the protector, the main bread winner and because of this they were given some education and seen as smarter. There was no need to educate women as it would have been a waste of money and would not have been in their job description. I can’t believe this is what men thought and, in some cases, still think!

In fact, some western countries gave women the right to vote only about 50 to 100 years ago, mostly during the interwar period – Canada (1917), Britain and Germany (1918), Austria and the Netherlands (1919) and the United States (1920). Notable exceptions in Europe were France, where women could not vote until 1944, Greece (1952), and Switzerland (1971).

Women have had to fight at every step for the right to be treated as equals to men.

Gender Pay Gap

Female filmmakers protesting the gender pay gap and other inequalities in the film industry, during the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

Even today, in several countries (including in “enlightened” first world countries), women are not paid on par with men for doing the same job and just as competently. There are a number of social reasons given for this disparity in income – from motherhood (perception that women cannot work as long or as hard as men) to jobs that are perceived to be male dominated (construction, manufacturing, mining, transportation, etc.).

For example, the following graphic shows the women’s weekly earnings, employment, and percentage of men’s earnings, by industry, in 2009, in the United states.

The OECD was showing the following gender pay gaps (unadjusted) in 2008.

The unadjusted gender gap according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) 2008.

There’s been positive change since, with numbers from 2015-2019 showing improvement overall. Lower numbers are better – and Belgium is leading the pack.

Gender Education Gap

What is more shocking than this disparity in income, is the disparity in education.  

Learning is the cornerstone for growth and self-discovery, so what happens if educations is denied or restricted to a part of the population. This part of the population will not have any growth or self-actualisation.

A world map showing countries by gender difference in literacy rate. A detailed Robinson projection SVG map shaded by country using two equally distributed colour palettes (red and blue) according to the difference in literacy rate between men and women (i.e. higher rates for males denoting positive numbers). x = difference in literacy rate and countries without data are light grey. The figures represented are almost entirely collected by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) on behalf of UNESCO with 2015 estimates based on people aged 15 or over who can read and write.

The countries with the largest difference between men’s and women’s average years of schooling are Afghanistan and India. 

Top 10 Countries with the biggest difference in mean years of schooling (2017) 

Country Male Female Difference 
Afghanistan 1.9 4.1 
India 8.2 4.8 3.4 
Equatorial Guinea 7.3 3.3 
Togo 6.5 3.3 3.2 
Congo (Democratic Republic of the) 8.4 5.3 3.1 
Cameroon 7.6 4.7 2.9 
Nepal 6.4 3.6 2.8 
Pakistan 6.5 3.8 2.7 
Liberia 6.1 3.5 2.6 
Central African Republic 5.6 2.6 

Human Development Data (1990–2017); www.hdr.undp.org (as on 15 October 2018) 

Even in developed countries, according to OECD 71% of men graduates with a science degree work as professionals in physics, mathematics and engineering, whereas only 43% women work as professionals and fewer than 1 in 3 engineering graduates and lesser than 1 in 5 computer science graduates are female. 

Moving forward

It saddens me that in this day and age, there is still so much sexual discrimination both at work and in education. Doesn’t this get you worked up? What can we do to change this status quo?

We at Robert Kennedy College are pleased to see an upward trend in the number of women students enrolling for our online master’s degree programmes in management. Over the past 7 years, we have seen a steady year on year (YOY) increase in the women to men ratio, shown below – we are off to a flying start in 2020 (Jan and Feb numbers counted so far), so we hope to see this trend continue and this disparity in education between men and women being greatly reduced in the years to come.

The trend of the percentage of female students over time. Color shows relative year on year (YOY) change in this value. After a slight dip in 2011-2013, the trend is clearly upwards, with 2020 (based on just Jan/Feb so far, of course) showing an encouraging spike towards the 50-50 line.

Our own little contribution: March Women’s bursaries of up to 2’500 CHF!

We are proud to play a part in the ongoing efforts in reducing the gender disparity in education, and today we are announcing a special bursary on the tuition fees for all female applicants during the month of March in celebration of the International Women’s Day! #EachforEqual! 

* the button above will connect you with our team over Whatsapp.

If you have been thinking about getting your Master degree, proving to yourself and others that you CAN do it, now would be a good time to take the plunge. Have a look at our list of programmes and see if we have anything that could help.

Women in Higher Education – The History and The Future

Dear Readers, I am going to present this blog as a two part series. This week, in Part 1, I reflect and reminisce through the long history of women’s education. In the impending blog, we will explore how the history unfolded and revolutionised in the 21st century of Online Learning.

I feel blessed and grateful to my parents who stressed upon the importance of education and always encouraged me to attain higher levels of education. As a young girl, primary education came but naturally to me. Equal opportunities and maybe better than my brother, were provided to ensure I receive quality formal and university education. But this has not always been the case back in the history of women’s education. As a woman, today I feel grateful to those who fought for, liberalised movement and demanded rights rather than asking for concessions.

Medieval, Early Modern Period and Georgian time : There were not many educational opportunities back in the medieval times. The education was mainly the responsibility of the Church or the families themselves. Girls were usually not the part of education system run by monks and nuns unless the girls wanted to become nuns themselves. Family system though seem to include girls, however only so they could lead their households successfully in future. Early modern period saw some freedom by consequence of education. The Georgian time resiled back to limited scope and avenues for women’s education. It was the time when despite increasing literacy rates and supporting movements like bluestocking movement; the concept of ‘separate spheres’ began gaining momentum. It meant segregating roles of men and women, with men incharge of the outside work world and women responsible for family upbringing and household.

The Victorian era: With the advent of Industrial Age, increasing number of men went seeking mechanical, trades and techinical education. There was n increasing pressure from women as well around the time to provide them equal opportunities and avenues of education. New educational institutions, founded by influential women, sprung up like Cheltenham Ladies’ College in 1853, and Roedean School in 1885. Also establishment of Education Act in 1880, laid the foundation of compulsory and free primary education. Not only did formal education advanced, women got free reign in University Education in Victorian era. In 1878, University of London became first university in the UK to award degrees to women.

The Women’s Liberation Movement: The women’s liberation movement (WLM) was a political alignment of women and feminist intellectualism that emerged in the late 1960s and continued into the 1980s primarily in the industrialized nations of the Western world, which affected great change (political, intellectual, cultural) throughout the world. Women’s Liberation Movement as a whole was much aided by the opportunities offered to a post-war generation of girls who had been able to get into the grammar school system, and the opportunities offered to them at these schools. The Women’s Liberation Movement held a series of conferences around the country to demand equal pay, equal educational and job opportunities, and legal and financial independence from men, among other things.