A group of students enjoying their graduation 2023 celebrations

#MyTime to #InspireInclusion for International Women’s Day

8 March 2024

Friday 8th March is International Women’s Day, a day of global activism and celebration of women and girls’ achievements.

Here at RNN Group, we want to celebrate our fabulous female students, staff and leaders, and inspire even more women to join us.

International Women’s Day is all about being yourself, being authentic, and succeed on your own terms.

This year, there are two hashtags we’re going to focus on: #InspireInclusion and #MyTime.


Women are now more ambitious than ever. They want more out of their careers and their lives and are willing to take steps to propel their career forwards.

#MyTime is our latest campaign to encourage women to return to education.

Whether you’re looking to gain promotion, have started a family and want to get back into work, or want a change in career, returning to study may seem both daunting and exciting.

But now is your time to work on yourself and be the go-getter you know you can be like some of our women alumni here at RNN Group.

Kelly Birkin

Kelly Birkin went back to college as a mature student to take the BA degree in media hair and make up after a career change from a health and social lecturer. She is now one of the lecturers in the media hair and makeup department.

“I’d gone self-employed as a makeup artist six or seven years ago and had worked in TV, film and theatres. But, approaching 40, I decided it was my time to get back into education. I loved the way I was taught; it was so organised, professional and welcoming. You do feel nervous as an adult learner but I didn’t feel any different to the other students and I got a lot of peer-on-peer support.

“After I graduated in 2022 I worked for the College as a community tutor then in the student support team. My ultimate goal was a role in the media make up department and I achieved it in just over a year, starting as a lecturer in September last year. It’s great to be working with my former lecturers, and my daughter is also a Rotherham College student studying nail technology.”

Kelly Birkin

Karen Chapman

Once a young mum with no qualifications and no idea what to do, Karen Chapman is now the finance manager of the RNN Group. She invested in her career prosects by signing up to the ACCA course at UCR, having spent 13 years as a business administrator.

While studying, Karen applied for a job at RNN as a finance assistant and was promoted after three months due to the knowledge and skillset she learnt from the course.

Juwairiyyah Nisar

Juwairiyyah Nisar is an adult learner who fits her studies around her two young children and part-time role as UCR’s learner recruitment and reception officer.

After taking up her role at UCR, Juwairiyyah applied for a distance learning course and has completed many level two courses such as principles in customer service, business administration and information, guidance and advice.

“The adult courses are extremely flexible and you study at a pace to suit your lifestyle. I’m very pleased and satisfied with how beneficial they have been for my career. I have developed my skills further to use in my current role and have had such positive feedback from students, colleagues and tutors about being caring and pleasant to speak to. I’ve learnt it’s the little things that go a long way, such as always saying hello, ask people if they’re okay and making them feel welcome.”

Juwairiyyah Nisar

Study at the RNN Group

At RNN Group, we offer a range of adults’ courses from levels 1 and 2 up to Masters degree level 7. There are also many level 2 distance learning courses you can complete at home. You could study everything from art and design to animal management, education to engineering.

Find our full course list here

Many of our adults’ courses are free or have funding options available. We can also support some mature students with things like childcare costs, travel costs, or tuition fees.

Our friendly Careers Coaches are always happy to run through any questions you may have. Contact them on 01709 362111 Ext 2656 (8.30am-5pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30am-4.30pm Fridays) or email careerscoaches@rnngroup.ac.uk


The official theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, #InspireInclusion is all about understanding and valuing how women’s inclusion will forge a better world. It’s also about inspiring women to be included.

Beyonce asked the question: who run the world? But the real question to ask is, when women aren’t present in certain roles, why not?

Many industries have woken up to the importance of having a diverse workforce. Balance means investing in the best people for a job, irrespective of their gender, and that can only be achieved by allowing women the chance to take on any role they’re qualified for.

As an employer, we have made it part of our mission to recruit, retain and develop talented female staff. We support women into leadership and decision-making roles, and the stats back that up. The leadership team at RNN Group is made up of eight women and six men, and our board of governors is split 10:4 in favour of women.

Our women leaders have significant input in all areas of the business, from HR, marketing and learner recruitment to strategic planning, safeguarding and academic standards. Our deputy CEO is a woman, as are two of our three campus directors.

As an education provider, we’ve been delighted to see more women and girls breaking gender stereotypes by pursuing careers in traditionally male-dominated industries. Courses like engineering, construction, automotive, and games design have more female learners than ever.

Emma Canvin

Emma Canvin is a construction apprentice at Fortem. She started the apprenticeship in her 30s after 16 years working in the care sector. She’s also a married mum of two children. She admits she knew nothing about plumbing or gas before she started, but is relishing the career change.

“Being a woman, you need to fight. Some people just won’t entertain you, so if you want it you have to really go for it. It’s been hard, but now I’m in a job I love – I even have my own van! If I can say anything to anyone that’s female that wants to do it then go for it and keep going because it can be challenging. It can be daunting because it is primarily a man’s world, but we are slowly taking over.”

Emma Canvin

Knowledge is power

Knowledge is power in a male-dominated field. Our courses equip students of all genders with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in their chosen industry. We empower our female students in male dominated industries to want to learn more and see what opportunities are out there for them.

In November, a group of female engineering students went to Leeds to visit Northern Trains Ltd. They had an insight into the railway industry, with a site tour of the maintenance depot. They also had talks from female apprentices and other employees to see what engineering career routes are available at Northern Trains.

In the past 40 years, there has been a steady increase of women entering male-dominated STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math). At last year’s graduation, we welcomed guest speaker Rebecca Jones, CEO of Iprosurve, as an ambassador for women in STEM.

Rotherham-born Rebecca made the bold decision to go down the unfamiliar path of drone technology after a successful career in finance. Her company is now globally recognised.

In her speech to our graduates, she said:

“Never create your own glass ceiling. The greatest opportunities lie beyond your comfort zone. Nurture your passions and what fills your heart with purpose. Passion will act as your compass guiding you through the rollercoaster of life.

“Let perseverance be the constant companion through times of darkness; I’ve had moments of self-doubt that have tested me more than sleep deprivation with a three-week-old baby, but life is not without its challenges. Never stop learning from others or considering different perspectives. And let your intellectual curiosity be the catalyst for your personal and professional growth.”

Rebecca Jones, CEO of Iprosurve
Categories: Blog