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Institute of Continuing Education (ICE)


At the Institute of Continuing Education, women are empowered at whatever stage they might be at in their learning journey.  

We spoke to Dr Detina Zalli , Assistant Teaching Professor at ICE for the Certificate of Higher Education in Pre-Medical Studies, about her journey as a woman in STEM, on how to tackle imposter syndrome and what advice she would give women wanting to go into STEM.  

Detina shares how: “Being a woman in STEM has been an incredibly gratifying journey for me. While there have been challenges along the way, the sense of fulfilment that comes from contributing to groundbreaking research, solving complex problems, and pushing the boundaries of innovation is truly unparalleled. 

One of the most rewarding aspects of working in STEM is the opportunity to make a tangible impact on society. Moreover, being part of a community of diverse and passionate individuals who share a common goal of pushing the boundaries of knowledge and discovery is truly inspiring.  

While there have been moments of adversity and skepticism, overcoming these challenges has only made me more resilient and determined to succeed. By breaking down barriers and challenging stereotypes, women in STEM are not only paving the way for future generations but also reshaping the landscape of innovation and progress. 

One of the primary difficulties I faced was the lack of representation and access to opportunities. Growing up in Albania, I did not see women pursuing careers in STEM. As a result, it was challenging to envision myself breaking into these male-dominated fields, let alone thriving in them.  

I worked very hard to excel in my field, and I chose not to be defined by the circumstances of my past, choosing instead to focus on what I could achieve in the present and future. 

Today, as I reflect on my journey, I am reminded of the power of resilience—the ability to face adversity head-on and emerge stronger on the other side.” 

Detina shares that in order to tackle the imposter syndrome as a career woman it is very important to first recognise that imposter syndrome is widespread, especially in fields like STEM.  

She says: “It is very important to actively seek out support networks, whether it's through mentorship programs, professional groups, or trusted colleagues. In my case, surrounding myself with individuals who understand the challenges and pressures of the workplace helps normalize my feelings and provides valuable perspective. Some of the people I look up to are Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai, Aferdita Mustafaraj Zalli, Michelle Williams, Claudine Gay, and the Nobel Prize Laureates Jennifer A Doudna, and Elizabeth Blackburn. 

It is also vital to embrace continuous learning and growth. By setting realistic goals and celebrating progress, we remind ourselves that it's okay to not have all the answers and that mistakes are part of the learning process.” 

Her advice to women in STEM is to find your passion. If STEM is your passion, have the confidence to embrace your place in STEM, and recognise the value of your unique perspective and contribution.   

 By not shying away from challenging opportunities but viewing them as chances to grow and expand your skills beyond your comfort zone is crucial both for personal and professional growth.   

A message Detina shares with her students is: “Dare to dream in STEM, for dreams are the architects of innovation and progress”. 

We also spoke to student Ina Skär Beeston, who has studied three courses with ICE, most recently the Master’s in Creative Writing. Ina trained as a lawyer, which she describes as “not really for her”. She worked as a corporate lawyer for several years, having been encouraged to get a ‘proper job’ due to creative endeavors not being valued at her school. 

 Ina says: “After leaving law, I stayed at home with my two daughters for 20 years and I always enjoyed writing. I wrote a blog for a few years, which made people both laugh and cry, and I thought- let’s see if we can develop this into something.” 

 She shares how she turned up to the course with imposter syndrome- “I struggled with my self-belief, but the courses at ICE have helped me believe- not only in my ability as a writer, but also my ability to think beyond just the writing.” She is now doing a PhD in Creative Writing.  

 Returning to education was a big step for Ina, but the increasing length and difficulty of the courses helped her to ease back into both academic writing and the time commitment necessary for that. The value her studies have brought to her and her family’s life are unmistakable, allowing her to find out what else she was capable of beyond being a mother, which helped her to expand her identity and to see the experience she brought to her learning as a mature student as a real asset.  

 Both Detina and Ina’s stories show how they overcame imposter syndrome as women in education, and how the Institute of Continuing Education has played a part in their journeys.  

We hope many more women will continue to empower themselves through their education. If you are inspired to study with us, look at our range of courses here. 

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