Last Wednesday, Moontoast had the honor of hosting the first ever Nashville Girl Geek Dinner.
Girl Geek Dinners is an organization founded by Sara Lamb, a girl geek in the UK, who grew tired of being the only female developer and having to constantly prove herself. She created the group to bring together like-minded people to dine and learn together.
Girl Geek Dinners was founded on this mission:
- To break down old fashioned social stereotypes.
- To identify routes around barriers to entry for anyone to get into technology.
- To encourage and nurture those interested in technology.
- To work with local schools, colleges and universities to encourage more women into the technology industry.
- To support those currently in the industry and work together to figure out the issues and the solutions.
- To include men, women and children in this journey…. and not exclude men from Girl Geek Dinner Events
Since being formed in 2005, Girl Geek Dinner chapters have expanded around the globe, including: Austin, Belfast, Boston, Boulder/Denver, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dubai, Johannesburg, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Norwich, Orlando, Perth, Philadelphia, Portland, Quebec, Rio De Janeiro, San Francisco (Bay Area), Seattle, Vancouver, and Washington, D.C.
Girl Geek Dinners Arrives in Nashville
The Nashville Chapter of Girl Geek Dinners was founded in 2013 by Rachel Werner. For quite some time she admired the work of the Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners and decided to bring Girl Geek Dinners to Nashville and with the help of her co-organizer, Kristin McKinney. They see GGD Nashville as a way to to encourage young women and girls to pursue technology careers.
Moontoast was proud to be the first Nashville Girl Geek Dinner sponsor and host. We wanted to hold the event in our offices so guests could see first hand what it’s like in a technology startup.
The community showed a tremendous response to the first Girl Geek Dinner in Nashville, as our 50 available spots sold out within hours on the first day of promotion and the wait list grew to 32.
Left to right: Kristin McKinney, Rachel Werner, and Lisa French
The Main Event
We received interest in GGD Nashville from a diverse range of disciplines including graphic design, communications, research, agile development, project management, customer service, software design and development, digital marketing, systems administration, dev-ops, and several Nashville Software School students.
Before the presentations, an hour of networking, drinks, and appetizers allowed for attendees to share their backgrounds and connect.
Next up was a Moontoast product demo from Senior Front End Engineer, Jonathan James. The audience got to see recent successful Moontoast campaigns, including a Pizza Hut Sweepstakes, Toyota Instagram Video Gallery, and Häagen-Dazs Voting Image Gallery. Guests also got to learn about the architecture and underlying technologies, as well as see a glimpse into the future of the Moontoast self-service platform.
For the first event, we wanted to discuss how to build credibility and reputation in technology and business. We asked panelists of software engineers, at various levels in their learning and career, to share their experiences. The panel included:
- Lisa French, (Front End Engineer) Moontoast
- Jacques Woodcock, (Senior Software Engineer) Moontoast
- Jean Soderkvist, (Senior Software Engineer) Orbitz Worldwide
- Lori McCurry, (Soon-to-be Graduate) Nashville Software School
- And Kate O’Neill, Founder/CEO at KO Insights, serving as Moderator
The discussion on how to build credibility, included the following ideas:
- A portfolio website
- Code samples, projects, and presentations available on GitHub
- User group involvement via platforms like Google Groups and Meetup.com
- Meeting people and gaining coding experience through hackathons
- Interacting with developers through IRC (Internet Relay Chat)
- Sharing lessons learned and interesting articles through writing, blogging, micro-blogging (like Twitter), and other social media channels
- Sharing knowledge and answering questions on sites like StackOverflow and Quora
- Branding consistency by keeping usernames the same across channels (if possible)
- Organizing and volunteering with community events
Each panelist discussed his/her past and ongoing experiences with Imposter Syndrome and how it can be detrimental to advancing one’s career. Panelist Jean Soderkvist shared that sometimes she wouldn’t volunteer for big projects because she didn’t think she could do it, but then when she saw how other people did on the project, it made her realize that she probably could have done it and no one knows how to do everything perfectly.
Another moment that stood out was when Moderator Kate O’Neill added this advice: “#1. Fake it til you make it work. And #2. You aren’t faking it nearly as much as you think.”
After the event, guests had the chance to get involved with several other initiatives related to the Girl Geek mission. Guests could sign up for a casual and fun learning-to-code event, called “Code and Pinot”.
There was also a “Dream Cards” station. Here, attendees could share their story and a handwritten note of encouragement toward pursing careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). These messages will then be delivered to local girls in junior high and high school.
We began an effort to collect technology books from around the Nashville community that are not currently in use, and offer them up for free rental via a community library.
And of course, there was a swag table.
The first Nashville Girl Geek Dinner was a huge success! Moontoast provided a space where women (and a few men) from a diverse range of occupations, ages, and backgrounds were able to grow their network for learning and encouragement in the technology field.
Nashville Girl Geek Dinners will be held each month. To be the first to hear about new GGD events, join the mailing list. If your company is interested in sponsorship, learn more here. If you’re willing to share your knowledge, please sign up to be a speaker here.
Moontoast looks forward to seeing the Nashville chapter of Girl Geek Dinner grow and build the presence of girl geeks in our city!
Special thanks to Stacie Huckeba for capturing this evening through photos!