Moira Donald, from Netherley, will graduate at 2.30pm on Friday 17 July with a BSc (Hons) Computer Network Management Design from Robert Gordon University, after successfully completing Aberdeen College's Women in IT initiative.
Moira was as a lab technician at the University of Aberdeen for 30 years, since she left school, before taking voluntary redundancy in September 2004. She then carried out a short term contact with Customs and Excise on Guild Street.
It was at this time that Moira decided to take the plunge and return to education, and took advantage of Aberdeen College's Women in IT initiative, which was set up through a grant from the European Social Fund (ESF) to encourage women into the world of IT - an area where women are still under represented.
The Women into IT project enabled women to gain skills for entry into higher level employment in the IT industry. Vocational skills were the main thrust of the 30 week course, but it also included soft skills such as assertiveness, confidence building, job search and employment related project work. Participants studied during family-friendly hours, gained valuable work experience and were mentored throughout. A comprehensive support package for each beneficiary was available comprising of childcare, dependant care, travel support, counselling, guidance and advice.
Moira began the course in November 2005. She said, ‘IT is still very male dominated so it was refreshing to be in an environment which included a lot of women, but still taught hands on, technical skills.'
After achieving an HNC at the end of her first year at College, Moira decided to go ahead and complete a second year to achieve an HND, which included a two-week work placement in the College's IT lab. It was there that she gained experience of ‘ghosting' - setting up numerous laptops with the same software.
In 2007, after successfully completing her HND, Moira took the plunge and embarked on her degree at Robert Gordon University. She said, ‘I had to work hard as there is more independent study required at university. It's also less structured so you have to be disciplined to motivate yourself.'
To Moira's relief she handed in her Honours thesis in May and received the exciting news that she had passed. She continues, ‘I felt that I had ran out of time with my Honours project and would have liked to have longer to finish it off but I think lots of people feel like that. I had a wonderful sense of achievement when I found out I'd passed.
‘The Women in IT route was perfect for women who are considering IT training, but I would advise anyone who is considering returning to education to go for it and take the plunge - I've never looked back!'
Moira is currently renovating her house and will concentrate on that before looking for employment in the IT industry. She also teaches a chicometrics class, non impact all over body toning, and covers yoga classes for other instructors and plans to continue this after she launches her career.
The concept for the Women in IT initiative came from Aberdeen College IT lecturer Kathy Horne who was keen to increase the percentage of female students attending classes in order to redress the lack of women in the industry. She said, ‘Young women today still view their own gender as the users, not creators, of IT and have little concept of the variety of jobs available in the industry. Narrow perspectives of the type of jobs women hold in the sector can act as a barrier when considering a future in this industry and it is up to educational institutions to widen the horizons of young women to get them to consider the plethora of options available.'