She’s Geeky, and So Am I

November 17, 2009

Last Friday, several colleagues and I participated in the She’s Geeky D.C. “unConference.” What is an unConference, you ask? It allows the attendees to determine the agenda and the presenters during a conference.

Organizers Kaliya Hamlin and Heidi Nobantu Saul kicked off the event by asking each of us to finish the sentence, “I am geeky because… .” We heard from a programmer who writes code for puppy Linux systems and a couple of avowed comic book fanatics. There was a diverse group of attendees, but the common thread was women using technology to better themselves and their respective communities.

AAUW jumped in and led a discussion on social media implementation plans. This free-flowing exchange of strategies and experiences was awesome. It was open source at its best.

In many sessions, attendees expressed the concern that, although women and girls have made significant progress in STEM, they are still underrepresented in certain fields and that barriers to their full participation remain. This position was validated during a session focused on women in technology. Many participants said they have attended other tech conferences and found that speakers and panelists are predominantly men. There was a resounding plea for recruiting women to present at technology conferences.

AAUW is committed to improving the number of women and girls in the STEM fields. We work with the National Girls Collaborative Project, which brings together organizations that are committed to informing and encouraging girls to pursue careers in STEM. AAUW’s other partners in the project include the Puget Sound Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology; Assessing Women and Men in Engineering; and the Education Development Center.

AAUW’s upcoming 2010 research report will highlight key findings from recent research on women and girls in STEM at three stages: in middle and high school, in college, and in the workplace.

When I was in school, I was a decent student, but no one would have ever considered me to be geeky. Let’s be clear; it just was not cool to be called geeky. I love that today’s girls and women now consider it a badge of honor to be called geeky, geekette, or nerdette. Working at AAUW has enabled me to learn about new technology and to use social media strategies such as Twitter, Second Life, and Facebook in my daily life. So it was affirmed last Friday: she’s geeky, and so am I.

Claudia Richards By:   |   November 17, 2009


  1. Holly Kearl says:

    Wow, I’ve never heard of an unconference. I’m intrigued!

    I wanted to add that this year through the Campus Action Project grant, AAUW will be funding the projects of over 10 campus-based teams as they work to address barriers girls and women face entering and staying in the STEM fields.

  2. It’s so important to remove the negative connotation from the words “Science”, “Math”, and even “Geek”! So, embrace your inner geek! Although, mine is definitely on the outside for everyone to see. In my field of bioengineering, I see a much greater proportion of women than in any other division of engineering. That being said, we are still outnumbered. It’s scary to think of it that way: Being outnumbered. It’s almost like we’re going to war (and, I suppose, sometimes it feels that way…). But that might be another topic altogether…

  3. Kathleen Wood Laurila says:

    I would hope that the terms “geekette” and “nerdette” will disappear — its the diminutive of the words, that then continue to be associated with males. Technology should not be gender specific.

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