Short Courses

Celebrating International Women's Day 2020

Meet just some of the inspiring women working across our Short Courses programme.

An equal world is an enabled world.

International Women’s Day takes place on 8 March 2020 and is an important opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements whilst raising awareness of bias and calling for greater equality.

This years’ campaign theme is #EachforEqual and focuses on the responsibility we all have for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. It centres on the idea that collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world,

So, in this latest blog, we’re choosing to challenge stereotypes, fight bias and broaden perceptions, as we celebrate just some of the amazing women who teach or support Short Courses at the Centre for Open Learning. 


Fiona McGibbon - Teaching Fellow 

Fiona is a Teaching Fellow at the Centre for Open Learning where she teaches Short Courses including: ‘Earth Science: An Introduction’; ‘Earth Science: Field Trips’ and ‘From the Mountains to the Sea: An Introduction to Geomorphology’.
We asked Fiona how she got in to the field of Earth Science... 
A Photo of Earth Science Tutor Fiona

When I was young I was really interested in everything outdoors - plants, beaches, rivers, mountains. I’m the youngest of four and I used to say “hey look at that”, “why do you think that’s like that?” and my sisters and brother would just laugh at me. I was never exposed to Geology or Earth Science at school and I actually went to university to study Biology. 

While at university, I had the option of doing an outside subject in another science, so I did Geology, and I just totally fell in love with it.

Earth science gets me outside and I’ve always been outdoorsy. That and the comradery of field trips, make it a very fun subject and one that takes you to amazing places.

And what advice would you give to women looking to work in this field?

Be curious! Follow the things that interest you. You can do anything you want and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Find the thing you are passionate about and go for it. Persevere, don’t be discouraged, be self – reliant and don’t expect too much from others.

It’s all the same advice I would give anyone, male or female, really. 

Maria Bensimon - Tutor

Maria holds two masters’ degrees in language acquisition and education and is currently a  Spanish Tutor at the Centre for Open Learning.
We asked Maria about her background in language teaching... 
A photo of Maria, Spanish Tutor at the Centre for Open Learning

I got into language teaching 13 years ago while participating in a cultural exchange programme in the United States. It was while there that I realised teaching was the profession I’d been looking for as I felt I was helping cultures meet. 

To enhance my theoretical knowledge in this field, I later carried out two master’s programmes in language acquisition and education which helped me become well-equipped to work with second language learners.

Today, I’m thrilled to be part of the University of Edinburgh at the Centre for Open Learning where I work with and learn from colleagues and students from all over the world have the opportunity to become a more culturally aware professional and human being.

And what role do you think education can play in creating a more equal society? 

I believe that the role of education is to provide opportunities for each individual’s unique talents, strengths, and interests to be fostered so that they may be used not only for personal fulfilment, but also for the improvement of society as a whole.

As women in education, we have the opportunity to be “agents of change”, which is a huge privilege as well as a responsibility. One of our responsibilities is to become culturally competent professionals that help promote understanding and appreciation for diversity.

I regard teaching languages as a means of setting up cultural connections. This entails open-mindedness and acceptance of diverse points of view and commitment to respecting the equality of all, regardless of race, gender, age, religion or sexual orientation.

Magdalena Getler - Digital Services Manager

Magdalena manages the Centre for Open Learning's Digital Services team. The team supports staff and students on the Holyrood Campus in all aspects of digital technology, including technology enhanced education and data curation.
We asked Magdalena to tell us a bit about her role as Digital Services manager... 
A photo of Magdalena, Digital Services Manager

I see my role here as leading a change, across the University of Edinburgh, in how we design technologies and other complex systems, making sure that in the future they are more simple and intuitive by applying design thinking principles.  I'm fully dedicated to (and borderline obsessed with) designing services that work for end users.

If we're really attentitive to the expectations of our customers and understand what students really want and need by placing them at the centre of everything we do, we can transform the way in which we develop products, services and processes. 

And what advice do you have for anyone looking for a career in technology? 

Technology cuts across various disciplines from computer science and psychology through product development and behavioural science and everybody is welcome to contribute and bring with them different ideas and experiences. 

Don’t ever hold back and think you’re not good enough or not ready for a challenge in tech or elsewhere, just throw yourself in!  And don’t necessarily wait for the right job to be advertised, if there is someone you’d like to work with, contact them and see if you could meet them for a chat.

So, be proactive and engaged as there are a lot of opportunities out there!

Pushpi Bagchi - Teaching Felllow

Pushpi is a communication designer and educator working towards a PhD in Design Education at Edinburgh College of Art. In addition, she is currently working as a Teaching Fellow at the Centre for Open Learning and teaches Short Courses including 'Portfolio Preparation: Design'.
We asked Pushpi to tell us what she enjoys most about working in the field of design... 
A photo of Pushpi, Design Tutor

After taking Art as a subject in high school I decided to study visual communication design as it seemed like an exciting challenge as there was so much ambiguity about what that would involve. 

I enjoy working in the field of design because the definition and scope of the field are still continually evolving; this opens up the possibility to carve your own path. At present, I'm working in an interdisciplinary space at the intersection of design research, ethnography, and the internationalisation of design education.  

And does anything need to change within the industry?

There needs to be more diversity in the design industry. That can only happen when people from different backgrounds join the community of practising designers and feel empowered to share their perspectives using creative means. 

For anyone interested in taking up a career in design, our networked world has helped democratise the process of learning new skills and showcasing talents. There are many ways to develop a creative career; the only requirement is a passion for learning. 



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