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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 ( 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 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
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

AlphaCode – what you need to know

AlphaCode is a club for next generation financial services entrepreneurs, which is supported by a physical workspace and virtual platform. AlphaCode seeks to create a next generation financial services eco-system by bringing together entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, industry experts and thought leaders to connect, share knowledge and shape the industry.

We are thrilled that for our next event, AlphaCode will be hosting us. There will be an exciting panel discussion, with plenty of opportunity for networking. It’s wonderful to see powerful women behind AlphaCode. Dominique Collett and Lisa Chiume will be speaking at the event.

AlphaCode is powered by Rand Merchant Insurance Holdings (RMI) and Rand Merchant Bank Holdings (RMBH), strategic active managers of a US$46bn financial services portfolio. This includes FirstRand, Discovery, OUTsurance, MMI Holdings and RMB Structured Insurance. RMIH and RMBH are active, value-adding partners and enablers of innovation and leadership in financial services.

Protect yourself from cybercrime

The evolution of cybercrime

It used to be relatively easy to avoid phishing attacks. There are many programmes on the market to reduce spam and block most malicious emails. However, cybercriminals are getting smarter and they are finding new ways to prey on unsuspecting email receipients, known as spear phishing.

You may have noticed some of these emails in your inbox. They may seem like legitimate emails from a reputable company, but the email is designed to trick you into extracting sensitive information like computer login details, personal information that can be used for identity theft, or to use the link to gain unauthorised access to your bank account.

It’s obvious that technology can only help so much in the fight against cybercrime. Knowing how to differentiate legitimate emails from spam, when to delete and when to click on links, can save you from a nasty experience. No one wants to fall victim to a fraudster.

How can you protect yourself?

Mimecast has developed a new version of Targeted Threat Protection, which will help businesses to build a Human Firewall. It’s intuitive, able to easily adapt and is as strong as they training that they give. They do this by teaching you simple tricks, like checking the URL, for example instead of ‘sars’ it may say ‘sar’. It is important that business decision makers to do their part by educating employees about the dangers of sharing personal information using a malicious link.

At Girl Geeks, we are passionate about empowerment and education. To help you to learn how to protect yourself online, Mimecast is hosting a Human Firewall event on 10 September and it’s FREE to attend. All you need to do is register here. To follow the conversation on social media, track #SpearPhishing #HumanFirewall.

Lets support @MayaMakanjee as she climbs Mt Kilimanjaro to keep young girls in school! #Trek4Mandela

So every now and again we like to give back, because the Girl Geek Community has given so much to us. Today we’re giving back in a way that seems very small compared to someone we admire. That someone is Maya Makanjee.

We’re giving back by blogging, Tweeting and Facebook about something the Vodacom Chief Officer of Corporate Affairs (Maya) will be doing this Mandela Day. We’re getting involved because she will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to help keep young girls in school. A cause we 110% back.

#Trek4Mandela aims to provide 67,000 sanitary packs to schoolgirls, ensuring they never have to stay home from school again. And because Vodacom is the first to provide network at the highest point in Africa, Maya and her team will be able to keep us updated as they climb Mount Kilimanjaro, plus they will see when you send a donation! (more on that below)



Girls can miss up to 50 days of school every year simply because they lack sanitary products. #Trek4Mandela is aimed at raising funds and awareness to tackle this problem and help girls reach the top.

If you believe in what Maya and her team are doing, help them reach their goal by sending ‘Maya’ to 42513 to donate R30!

Thanks for taking the time to read this. We hope you get involved and help us spread the word about this campaign.

Good luck to all the climbers, we can’t wait to see your pictures at the top 🙂



Top 7 Tips for Women in Tech

As a woman with more than 17 years of work experience in the challenging and constantly evolving tech industry, I have had my fair share of learning experiences over time. These are my top tips for women keen to survive and climb to the top in this exciting and dynamic environment:

1. Follow your passion
I am truly passionate about what I do. The moment I stop feeling that excitement, I look for other areas in the field that are able to challenge me and keep my mind working.

2. Learn to integrate your work and family life
I don’t like the term “work-balance” because, to be honest, it’s not a scale. I hate the message portrayed by movies such as The Devil Wears Prada and I Don’t Know How She Does It, where a woman has to choose between her career and her family. Your circumstances will change as you progress in life. My advice is to roll with the punches and make the best of your situation. The best part of integration is that things change and you adapt. Just like integrating an API to an app, changes always have to be made and likewise with family, as your children become older and family life demands change, you learn to integrate the family and work facets of your life.

3. Find a mentor
The importance of mentorship cannot be overstated. Identify a mentor who can support and invest in you. Senior managers will be more likely to take you under their wing if it is apparent that you love what you do and don’t really see it as a job, but rather as a passion and growth opportunity. This attitude will make the process of seeking support easier.

4. Chat to like-minded women who are true role models

Although there aren’t very many, you would be surprised at the response if you reached out for advice. The internet is full of so many awesome, talented women in the tech space who are constantly providing insights. However, choose your role models carefully based on the space you want to be in and find out how these women actually got to where they are. That is true of any role model or mentor actually, irrespective of gender. Sift through the public relations and hype and find people of true substance, who you can identify with in terms of having similar backgrounds/family situations.

5. Work on your negotiation skills

Society and tradition has taught women to be thankful for what we get, but throughout my career I often found that some of my male peers were on a higher salary scale than I was. When I investigated further, I found it wasn’t because they were more skilled than me but rather, because they don’t meekly accept the salaries or increases they are initially offered. It took me many years to pluck up the courage to ask for more money, but once I built up the confidence and realised I was the best at what I did, my negotiation skills improved considerably.

6. Learn from negative experiences

Treat negative experiences as character-building episodes in your life and move on – quickly. While I’ve had really awesome mentors and managers, I have also had to deal with the unfortunate situation where I had the odd male chauvinist line manager who would question my authority. Those situations I have treated as life experiences (yes, there were tears) but at the end of the day, knowledge and passion always win. If anything, it made me stronger and helped build my confidence.

7. Fight your fear of failure

Women in particular, hate failing and this can be a career inhibitor if you are always afraid to take risks. As a business owner, I am continually learning how to manage this and to see failure as an opportunity. In the words of author Eloise Ristad, “When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel”.
To sum up, being a woman in tech is not easy but confidence in your abilities, the willingness to seek out advice when necessary and the seamless integration of your work and personal life are the stepping stones to success.

Mums on the Run Workshop – Review and Win

At Girl Geeks, we are passionate about education. Whether that is sharing knowledge through our events, or educating the next generation of women to enter the tech field. Of course, we know that there are enormous challenges surrounding education, which is why we were thrilled to attend the Mums on the Run workshop, hosted by A to Z tutoring.

The workshop has been developed by Raquel Nielson. Raquel has a BSc degree in Molecular Cell Biology, a BSc Honours in Biotechnology and postgrad certificate in education with honours in mathematics and further education and training. She’s also taught for a few years. You could not find a person more passionate about education than Raquel and it is wonderful to see.

The idea behind the workshop is to teach parents simple skills that they can use in everyday life to help their children learn.

For example:

  • Baking: when you are baking with your child, show them what each ingredient is and how much it weighs. As they get older, you can ask them to get the ingredients themselves and even start to weigh them out for you.
  • Every day shapes: as children get older, they need to master geometry. A good way to give them a head start is to use something simple like a cereal box. Look at the size, shape, surface area. Show them the vitamin and nutrient breakdown.
  • Time management: a good tip is to spend a portion of time each day to going through schoolwork, even if there is not any homework. This gets children into a good habit and will hopefully keep them from pretending that they don’t have any!

The workshop is R250 and is well worth attending. They also offer classes to companies. The next workshop is on 13 March and we have 1 ticket to give away! If you would like to attend, all you need to do is comment on this post and tell us why you would like to win a ticket. The lucky winner will be announced on 2 March 2015.


Girl Geeks in the news!

Girl Geeks: Tech-savvy sisters are doing IT for themselves
Roxanne Henderson | 10 December, 2014 00:22

The Cape Town dinners started in 2010 and spread to Johannesburg the following year. All women are welcome.

Suhaifa Naidoo and her tech-savvy sisters got so sick of women being overlooked in the IT industry that they have set up their own “social network” – a hugely popular dinner club that caters exclusively to girl geeks.

Cape Town is an IT hotspot, one that is buzzing with start-ups, programmers and multinationals shopping for cheap developers.

But the industry has largely been a boys-only playground. According to researcher Adrian Schofield of Wits University, industry experts estimate that only 20% of jobs in IT are occupied by women.

Now Girl Geek Dinners, a non-profit networking organisation, is providing an “in” for women who might otherwise have remained on the fringe of tech.

The bimonthly event in Cape Town has grown from hosting 40 women to more than 100 , with many having to be turned away. The Johannesburg dinners are similarly popular, with the year’s final soiree earlier this week fully booked.

The Cape Town dinners started in 2010 and spread to Johannesburg the following year. All women are welcome.

”It’s not unusual to have a digital media strategist sitting between a beauty blogger and a head of communications,” said Johannesburg tech journalist and regular dinner guest, Stacey Vee.

With the help of sponsors, Naidoo is drawing high school and university students into the circle too.

An aspiring computer scientist and matric pupil from Langa, Simbulele Lobese, said: “[Men] think women can’t do IT. When I started doing IT at school the boys told me, ‘You are going to drop out,’ but we’re showing them we can do it.”

Students who attend the dinners are often hired as interns after networking with successful women in the industry.

Next year, Naidoo plans to go to schools in the Cape and teach female pupils how to create LinkedIn and Twitter accounts that boost their career prospects.

See or

We tried out Daily Dish!

Tired of eating the same meals all the time? Don’t have the time and energy to buy all the necessary ingredients? Perhaps you would just like a bit of inspiration. Enter Daily Dish, the perfect solution to the eternal dilemma of what to cook for dinner. We tried out the service last week – here is our review.


Daily Dish is incredibly easy to use. You simply sign-up and select the menu of your choice (classic, low carb or vegetarian) and then wait for delivery the following week. You will receive a box of fresh ingredients and recipes for the next four days. The beauty of the system is that there are no contracts – you can pause or cancel your subscription at any time.

We tried out the low carb box for 4 people.

The meals were:

  • Gammon steak salad
  • Marjoram and tomato chicken
  • Quinoa BLT salad
  • Thai chilli beef stir fry with spinach wraps.

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They were all really tasty and easy to cook. The portions were great, you certainly did not feel hungry at all. As someone who gets bored eating the same food all the time, the variety is wonderful. Also, the meals are all cooked pretty quickly – in about 30 minutes or so.

The downside of this service is that you actually have to cook the food and everything arrives fresh. So, if you decide that you would rather eat out or you don’t feel like cooking, then you will be wasting some great food.

On the whole we really enjoyed the service and we have signed up for another week!

Win tickets to Inspiration Indaba

At Girl Geek Dinners, we believe in inspiring women; to dream, to achieve their goals and have a lot of fun while doing it! That is why we were so excited to hear about the inaugural Inspiration Indaba brought to you by Citadel in partnership with Moneyweb. There is a fantastic speaker lineup, with inspiring South Africans sharing their stories of success.

There are two great female speakers; Lee Swan, a climate change strategist and the first South African-born woman to race to the magnetic North Pole and Lynette Ntuli, CEO of asset and infrastructure development firm Innate Investment Solutions.

Lee-SwanLynette Ntuli


The event will take place on 2 September 2014 and we have two tickets to giveaway, valued at R1 500 each! All you have to do is leave a comment on the post below. Winners will be selected by Random Results and announced on Friday, 22 August.

Congrats to our two winners – MeeA Parkins and Anuschka Richards. We hope you enjoy the event!