Archive | April, 2016

Girl Geek interview with Geek Node

Geek Girl Dinners – Empowering Women in Tech
Written by Harlequinn

Do you love food? Do you love tech? Are you into geeking out with other women? Then you are going to want to be all over Geek Girl Dinners. I recently caught up with the Johannesburg founder, Leigh-Ann Fowle to find out all about what to expect at one of their events.
GN: Let’s start at the beginning, how was the idea for Geek Girls Dinner born?
LF: It was started by a woman who was tired of attending tech events and being the only woman there. It has now spread around the world.
GN: Where do Geek Girl Dinners happen?
LF: They take place around the globe in 99 cities. The Johannesburg chapter was started in November 2011 by myself and Kirsty Sharman.
GN: What typically goes down at a GGD event?
LF: The events are held every second month, at different venues around Johannesburg. Ladies arrive, have an opportunity to network, eat fabulous food, listen to a phenomenal guest speaker and stand a chance to win great prizes. They also leave with a stunning goodie bag.
GN: What topics can girls expect to be discussed at the dinners?
LF: The topics relate to being a woman in business e.g. leadership, inspirational stories or specific tech i.e. email security or social media law. We look for topical issues that we can find experts to speak on.
GN: How can girls go about starting a chapter in their city?
LF: You can contact Girl Geek worldwide (girlgeekdinners.com) and apply to start a chapter.
GN: I noticed that some pretty big tech brands like Mimecast have sponsored dinners in the past. How can a business go about sponsoring an event?
LF: Contact the organisers via email info@girlgeeksofjhb.co.za We are always looking for brands to partner with!
GN: A little birdy told us GGD also offers corporate training as well, what is that all about?
LF: We offer training on social media that is customised for each client. So for example, how to use social media for sales, social media training for employees, social media policies etc
GN: How has being a part of GGD affected your career path?
LF: I have learnt so much from the amazing women that attend our events. That is what Girl Geeks is all about – connecting women.
GN: What do you think companies can do to encourage more girls to join tech?
LF: I think it’s important to demystify tech and show the many wonderful opportunities that are out there. This is one of the reasons we run these events.
GN: Who do you look up to in the tech industry?
LF: Sheryl Sandburg. Her book Lean In has had an amazing impact on the women that I talk to.

What goes on at a Girl Geek event?

Girl Geek Dinners – A TechGirl Review

A few weeks ago we hosted the second dinner for 2016 of the Girl Geek Dinners Johannesburg. Tech Girl was invited, at the beginning of the year, to come on as the official media partner and I’ve spent a considerable amount of my free time hunting down goodies for our goodie bags and sourcing interesting speakers. Leigh-Ann Fowle and Kirsty Sharman started the dinners in Johannesburg a few years back and are still very much involved. We all dedicate a considerable amount of our personal time to the dinners, as do so many others (shout out to Jade here who always offers to help! Thank you!).

Girl Geek Dinners
Leigh-Ann, Kirsty and me!
Our more recent dinner took place at Hard Rock Cafe on Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton. This is one of my favourite local restaurants, predominantly because of the gorgeous collectors items they have gracing the walls. If you’re a music fan you’re in for a real treat! The food is also rather delicious. Think sliders (mini burgers), yummy Tacos and Cheesy nachos. I think anyone in attendance can agree that the food at Hard Rock goes down as some of the best.

Girl Geek Dinners
All the blur when getting ready to start!
While the ladies in attendance enjoyed a wine tasting arranged by Van Loveren Wines, I was manning the entrance desk. We had a section of the restaurant dedicated to the dinner but the bar and outside area was still open to the general public. Two men at the bar came over to me and asked me what was going on. They’d been listening to our wonderful speaker, Lori Milner, who recently co-authored Own Your Space. Lori was discussing how we, as females, can better function in the corporate arena and, ultimately, own our own space. The gents announced to me that they thought the dinners were sexist.

Girl Geek Dinners
Registration
I had a good chuckle because the dinners have never specified that men cannot attend. Over the last few we’ve had a few gents added to the guest list and they’ve all had a great time (ask them!). While our focus has always been on uplifting women in the tech space, over the years I think the Girl Geek Dinners have grown to encompass something more. They’ve grown to represent the coming together of positive individuals (yes, mainly females) and sharing information relating to the corporate and tech space while just giving attendees a great night out and opportunity to meet new friends.

Girl Geek Dinners

Sexism is defined as (pulled from Merriam-Webster):

1 : prejudice or discrimination based on sex; 2 : behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex.

I think the very thing the Girl Geek Dinners do is go against sexism. We don’t discriminate and we try counter those typical stereotypes placed on women in the corporate sector (specifically industries like technology) while also encouraging open dialogue and education. It’s an interesting discussion that has touched a cord with me. Recently I was made aware that a few of my (male) colleagues in the industry had verbalised that Tech Girl, as a blog, was anti-feminist. That the content I was producing went against everything it should stand for. It’s an interesting thought really. This blog was built by me from the ground up and anything it stands for is what I stand for. What should it stand for? Blogs are an extension of ourselves and so they can only really embody our own thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I’ve always felt confident in my space as a woman crafting content in the gaming and technology space. Because of this confidence I’ve also been able to embody a sense of humour and been able to take a tongue in cheek look at certain aspects of the industry. I like that about me and, I hope, others like that about the blog. I’m proud of what I produce and proud of the spare time I’ll happily sacrifice to hunting down sponsors for an event like the Girl Geek Dinners or helping a fellow woman fight a Tinder battle.

I think this is what the Girl Geek Dinners are about.

Girl Geek Dinners
Our speaker Lori Milner
They’re not about sexism, or discrimination of women in the tech space or about one upping your social network. They’re about a group of women helping each other love who they are. They’re about us supporting and uplifting one another in a space that is fun and friendly. They’re about all the good we sometimes miss.

It’s a special organisation and one I’m proud to be apart of.

Girl Geek Dinners

So to answer the initial question: no, the Girl Geek Dinners are most definitely not sexist.

They’re a fantastic opportunity for us to uplift one another, women or men, in a fun space over a good glass of wine. You also get to take home a really great goodie bag packed with some great products. This last dinner saw a voucher from AlwaysOn (I spent mine in the airport on the way to rAge), a sample can of Batiste dry shampoo (my go to after gym), funky socks from ToePorn, a Cadbury PS bar and vouchers from Take Charge SA, Placecol, Poise Brands and the Blogger workshop happening in Johannesburg later this month.A