London Geekettes Social & New Ambassadors

Join our first London Geekettes event for 2017!

Identifying the best ladies for the role has been challenging, as we received many applications from fascinating women out there! Marily & Claire have carefully worked on on-boarding 3 new amazing women, that will keep expanding the strong Geekettes community!

The London Geekettes originally launched in 2014 - they have received sponsorship from various companies, among others, Facebook London and Google and they've held ~15 very successful events. Using Marily & Claire's words: "We are community-led, meaning that we tend to run events that are suggested by the community - the events' themes vary from entrepreneurship, technical skills workshops lead by engineers working for large tech companies to even hackathons for children!".

Marily Nika

Marily Nika will be an advisor to our new ambassadors, as she is now based in San Francisco on an assignment.
 

 


Without any further ado, meet the new ambassadors!

Yulia Bulgakova

What is your background?
Hi, I am Yulia. I currently work as a Software Engineer.

What inspired you to become a software developer?
I enjoyed programming since I was a kid and after finishing school decided to pursue a degree in Computing, which eventually led to my career in software engineering.

Why did you to become a Geekettes ambassador?
Being a female software engineer, I never got to work in a company that has another female engineer in my team, so I experienced first hand how underrepresented women in tech are which made me want to help Geekettes out on its mission. :)

Tell a fun fact about yourself
I have a cat called Pixel.

Do you have any advice for women interested in tech?
Go for it!

Joanna Diep

What is your background?
Hi I’m Joanna and I’m currently a software developer at a startup.

What inspired you to become a software developer?
I really enjoyed studying Computing at university and I like the challenges involved. I decided to take my skills further and started a career in software development.

Why did you to become a Geekettes ambassador?
During university and my time working in the industry, I’ve noticed an underrepresentation of women in technology. I want to try and help women access the resources needed to build a successful career and increase their interest in technology - hopefully getting towards an even split of men and women in tech!

Tell a fun fact about yourself
One of my hobbies is rifle shooting.

Do you have any advice for women interested in tech?
Stay positive and keep working hard, but have fun too!

Claudia Mihai

What is your background?
I’m Claudia, and I’m also a software engineer!

What inspired you to become a software developer?
Several things led to it. One, I’ve loved being in the general area of computers since my first PC at age 4. Two, my interest in AI based on my interest in sci-fi. Three, a wonderful professor back in high school, who knew how to transfer her passion for programming to her students. And four, I get to create things, make devices do things for me, and use several weird looking languages to do this; I couldn’t ask for more.

Why did you to become a Geekettes ambassador?
I’ve attended some women in technology events over the past few years, and I find the issues interesting and the community wonderful. I wanted to contribute to that as well as help other women start on or continue their path in technology! It’s an amazing field, and it would only develop better and faster if there was more diversity within it.

Tell a fun fact about yourself.
I get to work at the MCM London Comic Con - twice in a row so far, and I plan to keep it going.

Do you have any advice for women interested in tech?
Don’t be afraid to try it out; the guys obviously aren’t. And if you’re afraid you might fail, I can’t put it better than it was said at the Grace Hopper Celebration in London: “There are some incredible benefits to failing horribly.”

Now that we’ve taken over this post, we’re SO excited to announce our first event and further expand the London Geekettes community!

We will see you at: 6.30pm Wednesday, 20th of March, Pavilion End, 23 Watling Street, London EC4M 9BR

Our first event of 2017 is coming up on the 20th of March! The London Geekettes took some time off, so we’re kicking the year off with an informal team building event of sorts. We’ll start with a social icebreaker, and move on to a moderated discussion with suggestions on the Geekettes’ activity. Throughout the event, we wish to see what our existing members want out of Geekettes London this year. After all, we are a community first, and we want to involve everyone in setting our focus from here on!

 

Happy Birthday Berlin Geekettes

Happy Birthday Berlin Geekettes

 

Happy birthday BGs! In five years, our Berlin community has grown and blossomed into something more than just a network — it feels more like a movement. It’s been an honor working alongside an incredible group of people who have volunteered thousands of hours to help build our talks, workshops, hackathons and mentorship programs. These basic building blocks have connected women through a grassroots structure and created a space to share wisdom and experience. It’s been a pleasure to watch the interaction between the women in our community and to see the shared value in helping one another. We’re one step closer to closing the gender gap but still have a lot of work ahead of us.

I often get asked by people how Berlin Geekettes was born. Our blank canvas began with a very simple idea that was presented at a dinner gathering of eight women. I had met an incredible (yet small) group of women over a short period of time when first arriving in Berlin back in 2012. We were an international crew that was comprised of two Americans, one Iranian, one Brit, two Germans, one Spaniard and a Canadian. < cue… It’s a small world world after all…..>

 

On February of 2011, we gathered in a small Thai restaurant in Mitte and somehow I felt quite at home, I finally found my tribe. Towards the end of the meal, I looked up and asked “what if we were to form a group? A support network of women and call it…..Geekettes?!” And I still remember Jeannette Gusko’s eyes lighting up with an enthusiastic reply “YES! We must! We will!”. It was a no brainer, the women at dinner fell in love with the idea and within 24 hours we had a private Facebook group, invited our friends and a logo was created by a very talented Berlin-based designer Nadja aka Artcore. Et voila. Geekettes was born.

 

Once we recruited more women into our Facebook group, we reached a critical mass and hosted our first event at the beautiful home of Zoe Adamovicz. Women from all corners of tech joined for mimosas in the sun. Together we shared our personal stories and mapped out some initial plans for the year.

So we threw everything at it, our energy, time and resources to grow this community. The Berlin hub origins began with designing and experimenting using new formats. Our vision was to create an environment that was reflective of Berlin. How do you build an event that attracts and delights? How do you build a workshop that unites and educates? We asked women around us and their responses ignited a laundry list of ideas.

Fast forward to winter 2012, I partnered with Geekette’s first co-founder Denise Philipp and lead evangelista Lisa Lang. We met at the first Rails Girls meetup in Berlin and there was a profound connection between the three of us. Denise also joined me at General Assembly and we created hundreds of workshops around coding, design and entrepreneurship. And guess what? Half of our classes were filled with Geekettes! Our journey felt like climbing a mountain, as each week presented new challenges & higher peaks. The resilience and teamwork from the Geekettes enabled a trust system for us to lean on. We built a community of teachers and learners by uniting them in a thoughtful way. We wanna give a big high five to all of our hardworking instructors and volunteers, none of this could have happened without you. And of course thank you dear Lisa for being so supportive of the Geekettes not just in Berlin but all over Europe and the United States.

 

“It’s been the most rewarding, life-changing and supportive community I’ve ever been a part of. I am endlessly grateful for the people I’ve met through Geekettes and the impact they still have on my life. — Denise Philipp (Co-Founder of Geekettes)

“I can still see the impact of the Geekettes in Berlin on almost a daily basis — all of the connections, the friendships and careers which came out of this network have impacted and inspired a lot of lives, mine included. I’m very proud of our work and very humble to have worked with so many amazing people — you can clearly feel the awareness which has been created, it’s a solid foundation to a fundamental change, there is still lot of work to do, but it is definitely a start.” — Lisa Lang (Geekettes Evangelista)

Not everything was perfect. We also had our fair share of doubters but we chose to ignore them and pushed forward with our plans. We found willing collaborators, passionate sponsors and we were able align our personal goals with nearly everyone around us. From techno producers to HR heads at major corporations, we discovered a deeper connection to the movement and an urgency to drive more women into our industry. Berlin’s DNA played a critical role in how we constructed programing & outreach. Art, tech and mentorship were some of the key ingredients that resonated most with our community.

 

We didn’t know what we were doing or where we were headed, it was all so organic in the beginning. We filled gaps and provided support for women at all levels of their careers. Again, not everything was peaches and cream. There was an element of anxiety that went along with this process. Denise and I were unsure if we’d raise enough sponsorship money, if we’d be able to feed ourselves each month, or if women would continue showing up to participate. After trials and tribulations, we finally hit our stride and women were coming out of the woodworks to join us and companies were supporting us left and right. Then came the next generation of ambassadors, Anita Heiberg and Alexa Shoen. And as true community builders, they set out to continue what we had started but added their own personal touch and approach. Berlin continued to evolve as did the Geekettes community. Thank you for all your amazing work over the years and carrying on the torch for us!

 

“The Berlin Geekettes are probably the single biggest reason for my success in Berlin. I was lucky to be introduced to the group shortly after their first anniversary and join into their 2nd Mentorship program with Google. In a very practical sense, the experience of going through the program, meeting other Geekettes and joining events and fireside chats (and even the odd karaoke session) always made me think, “this must be what it feels like to be one of the guys in that all boys club. Finally we have something for ourselves.”

In my four years with the Geekettes, I’ve seen the value it brings to women’s lives. Getting that job they wanted, negotiating a better salary, finding mentors and collaborators and more often than not, great friends. Just being in the presence of such incredible women has inspired me and given me strength — a community. As an ambassador, this is the feeling I try to pass on to the next generation of Geekettes — to give someone else the feeling that, “we’ve got your back.” Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Berlin Geekettes! And here’s to many more!” — Anita Heiberg

SOME OF MY FAVORITE MEMORIES:

 

Geekettes Hackathon in 2013 (Germany’s first all-woman hackathon)

Geekettes Hackathon in 2013 (Germany’s first all-woman hackathon)

Mentorship Program

Mentorship Program

Pilot Mentorship Program with @Google

Pilot Mentorship Program with @Google

Lean In Geekettes Roundtable with Sheryl Sandberg & Tina Kulow

Lean In Geekettes Roundtable with Sheryl Sandberg & Tina Kulow

First Geekettes Panel @Apple

First Geekettes Panel @Apple

3D Printing & Laser Workshop

3D Printing & Laser Workshop

Over the years, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to build personal relationships with brilliant women of tech across the globe. Women pioneering their own businesses, building their own products, creating communities and inspiring the next generation to follow in their footsteps. After much consideration, we’ve decided to slowly expand the Geekettes footprint beyond Germany and unite women across Europe, America, Middle East with hopes of someday expanding to Asia, Latin America, Africa and further beyond. But we will never forget that Geekettes was born in the city of Berlin. A city that continues to push forward, to build, to unite.

I’m really looking forward to 2017, this is the year that I believe we will see a continued evolution for women in technology. With programs and funds sprouting all over the world to support women, we’re definitely going to see some big progress. More women will begin starting their own businesses, breaking into engineering roles and pioneering fresh ideas within the industry as a whole. I’m more confident than ever before and very excited to see what our new ambassadors will create in Berlin. (announcement coming soon). Until then, join Lean In’s newest Regional Ambassador, Irina Botea on International Women’s Day for a session “Body Language in the Digital Era”. RSVP HERE.

Prost, danke schön und tschüss…… xo

Jess Erickson

If you want to join our community, please sign up for membership today: http://www.geekettes.io/membership/

Global Geekettes Meetup: the beginning of a conversation

Hello everyone!

It's been a month since our Global Geekettes Meetup at Web Summit: an event that gathered over 100 Geekettes and Geeks from all over the world. Portugal Geekettes organised the event and the most amazing part was to see a panel that was planned to last one hour, but ended up lasting for over two hours by audience request!

We had incredible speakers: Ida Tin (Clue, Berlin), Lu Li (Blooming Founders, London), Filipa Larangeira (Orangeboom, Lisbon), Hollie Haggans (Digital Ocean, NYC) and the surprise speaker Leslie Miley (Slack, San Francisco).

The venue couldn't be better, thank you so much Uniplaces for hosting us! And thank you Ableton for providing dinner for everyone! We would also like to thank Unicer for all the drinks, Herdade do Peso and Mateus for the wine. Cheers!

Below is a video of the event for all the people who were not able to join us. Unfortunately, we will not be able to publish a full video of the panel, because for some reason the camera that was shooting the panel didn't record the sound. Still, and even though this blog post can never cover everything we discussed, we would like to share some highlights with you.

A sneak peek of our Global Geekettes Meetup! (sorry for the quality of the video, we had issues with the camera.)

Inclusion first, diversity second?

Diversity is important, but if we don't focus on inclusion, the tech community won't be able to allow women to be part of it, nor have a successful career in it. In the end, and speaking in “tech language”, we are focusing too much on “user acquisition” and not enough on “user retention”.

Lu Li said that she prefers to speak in terms of inclusion than diversity, because it’s not just about getting a diverse team, it is also fostering an environment that will allow them to work well with each other.

As Leslie Miley mentioned, putting people together with different backgrounds, gender, ethnicities and cultures without fostering an inclusive environment will lead to conflict and this conflict is already seen in our companies in a smaller scale, and in a larger scale, the rise of terrorist attacks and Trump winning the elections in the USA.

He also added that there is nothing wrong with an industry or a company that is not inclusive to start focusing on being inclusive. We all need to start somewhere. The important factor here is that they transition with authenticity and back it really well with strong inclusive practices. In addition, companies must be open to feedback and communicate really well why they are making these changes, or it can backfire and create a more divided environment.

Women in Tech and other underrepresented minorities

First, we can't forget that women in tech are not just programmers. There are many jobs throughout this area and even though it's very important to encourage women to pursue a software developer career, we shouldn't force them.

However, Ida Tin noted that girls like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) when they are little and something happens when they grow up and we really need to know what it is to fix it, because we are losing incredible talent.

Currently, and even though white males make 10% of the world population, they make over 80% of the tech community. This means that we have 10% of the world population building the tech infrastructure of the future, and tech, as you may have noticed is going to be everywhere!

Ida Tin reinforced the importance of having more diverse teams working in health and Artificial Intelligence, and the problems of having more than half of the world population involved in this.

Diversity tickets and quotas

This question arose due to that fact that many of the women have been harassed during Web Summit because of the free tickets. Even though many people believe it's not fair that minorities get free stuff, these people need to be remembered that for them to have the life they have today, many minorities have suffered hundreds of years of oppression, so they didn't and still don't have the same chances as white men do.

The way that our society fosters stereotypes and the way we have been raising our children has not given them the same opportunities and this reflects on each individual's choices. This means that a grown up woman today can only be aware that she loves to code now, and that she can have a career in tech too, whereas before she was conditioned to be a teacher or something else more "suitable" to her stereotype.

Women need to support each other more

After getting some unfortunate feedback from men at Web Summit, Sara Bianchi decided to conduct an experience and used different types of clothes at the event. Even though she thought she would get more bashing from men, it was women who reacted the most. This was a controversial topic, and even though there are dress codes appropriate for work events, women have the right to dress how they feel like.

We tend to hold each other with very high expectations, maybe because we also hold ourselves with very high expectations too. It’s time for us to be more compassionate towards ourselves and other women. We are stronger together!

Privilege and empathy

Privilege is not a bad thing. But privilege without empathy is a bad thing. Only with empathy can we put ourselves on the other's shoes and understand their problems. This is the path to change.

White men seem to have many privileges but as we discussed more, we saw that there were many other privileges realted to religion, ethnicity, income, illness and so on. Ana Sofia told a story about two muslim programming students from Cairo who wanted to come to Portugal to a programming conference. They didn’t have the money and had to make a crowdfunding campaign. From religion, to money and a pratically non-existent community, they faced more obstacles than many European or USA women. In the end, the two students wanted to come to Europe to get help to bring one hundred women to programming in a year, and organize the first Ruby Conf in Egypt. This is a great cause to support!

Women and men: speak up!

One man asked how men could help more. The biggest advice here would be to speak up, independently if there are women present or not. If men speak up, they will educate other men and this is extremely important to change the culture of the community. People tend to listen more to people that look like them, so when men speak, there is a bigger chance that they will be listened to more than a woman.

Women who are survivors of harassment and see their careers halted due to unfair sexist, racist, xenophobe — amongst others — reasons need to speak up. Even if it's just to a friend or on their blog, they need to speak up. This is the only way we can change things.

Why do women keep leaving tech?

We as a society have been raising our girls in a way that they believe STEM is not for them. At the same time, we raise men to behave in a certain way. It is not surprising that women are 2 times more likely to drop out STEM than men. From them believing that their place in not in tech and being harassed and finding continuous blockages in their careers, this leads to “death by a thousand paper cuts”, as Hollie Haggans mentioned. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you love your work, if you can’t be happy and evolve, you have to leave. And this is why we care so much about inclusion and that we do what we do at Geekettes.

We need to own our value

We need to realise that women are powerful the way they are. They shouldn't be obliged to behave in a more masculine way to follow a career in tech. The goal is to have a more balanced tech community where we can bring the best of masculine and feminine ways of of being.

It was incredible to see so many powerful women and men together on that day. This is a conversation to be taken forward, whether it would be on your communities and companies or on our Slack team (if you want to join Slack, please apply for membership here).

 

Thank you so much for being there!

See you around!

Ana Sofia and Portugal Geekettes tea