After my first year of my undergrad I asked my good friend to ask his dad, who were working at an IT company, if there were any possibilities to get a summer internship at his company. The reply I got was from my friend was simply “Why? You couldn’t do what he is doing it’s way too techy for you”. These words have been stuck with me since then and I was truly disappointed with my friend because of two reasons; he clearly had no idea what I was studying and he didn’t support nor encouraged my ambition. My bachelor degree was in Information Management for Business, partially focusing on business concepts and partly focusing on IT related subjects, including programming, software engineering and interaction design. I had more of a ‘clue’ than he could imagine.
This feeling that people didn’t understand my interests was a problem I faced during the three years as an undergraduate student – I felt something was missing. Most of my classmates were focused on graduate schemes within various disciplines that were not directly related to the techy part of our degree. I was also lacking inspiration from role models in my network and very few of my close friends were interested in web and tech.
However this has changed in the last year due to two crucial steps I taken. The first step was me deciding to do a MSc in Technology Entrepreneurship (the name can’t fool anyone) and, the second step, was joining the GeekGirl Meetup team. This post will focus on the later and give you the short story of how it started.
I came across GeekGirl Meetup, a Swedish unconference only for WOMEN, last summer. One of the co-founders of GeekGirl Meetup, Heidi Harman, a truly inspirational female role model had moved to London and wanted to arrange the first GeekGirl Meetup here. This was something that I wanted to be a part of and after meeting with Heidi I was invited on board the GeekGirl team. Since then, I’ve attented two GeekGirl Meetups, one in London and one in Stockholm, and it was when I was in Sweden I understood that something was different.
All of sudden, by positioning myself as a geek girl, I was also treated as one, it was like I put a label on my forehead. My friends now ask me for advice with their computers’, they look to me when fiddling with their iPhones and my opinions on the latest gadgets matter more because clearly this was stuff I knew about – I’m a ‘geek’.
But I’m not the kind of geek who closes the blinds to sit programming until the early morning and most of the time, I’m a late adopter of the ‘new’ gadgets. But I understand code, I’m interested in technology and yes, I’m a girl.
I’m happy and thankful that GeekGirl has helped myself realise this as well explained it to others – all I had to do was join a great community of inspiring and brilliant women with the same interests as me. I do hope my old friend, whose words been burning in my head the last couple of years realises his mistake and remember to always encourage people’s ambition and not be lead by the assumption that girls can’t be geeks.
See also my short blogpost where I’m talking about Identity.