Girl Geek network helping women break into male-dominated IT

In first two years Girl Geek Scotland has hosted 15 events for 650 women.

Girl Geek Scotland hopes to support more women going into STEM careers

A Scottish network of female “nerds” is helping to encourage more women to follow STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers.

Girl Geek Scotland (GGS) has created a supportive network for women who are at entry-level in their careers – in a bid stop women who work in these male-dominated sectors feeling isolated.

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Having recently announced a partnership with Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE), the group will now spread its message in schools, colleges and universities across Scotland.

They have also launched their first competition with Nano-Lit Technologies, for Best Lighting Design with a group of female Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design students.

Girl Geek Dinners was founded in 2005 by Sarah Lamb. Originally it was an informal organisation that promoted women in information technology but now has grown to 64 networks in 23 countries.

The Scottish chapter was launched in 2008 and has just relaunched February 9, with partners Napier University and Bright Red Triangle..

Girl Geek Scotland hosted a number of Girl Geek Dinners between 2009 - 2010 - eight dinner events for 30 - 70 women and three workshops with around 40 participants. Sever other dinners were held in 2009.

At the relaunch, the key note speakers was First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said: “A career in digital technology and industries is something women have traditionally been less likely to pursue than their male peers.

“Organisations like Girl Geek Scotland not only help Scotland in its ambition to create more women entrepreneurs, but they also allow women to discover the opportunities and benefits that a career in technology can bring.”

Founder Ms Lamb said: “I’d only been in the business world for 12 months when I decided to start up the Girl Geek dinners and it all came about after going to a Geek dinner event held in London.

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“I quickly realised how isolated women in the industry were. It also made me understand that some men don’t really know how to react to a technical female, and that some people immediately assume and truly believe some old fashioned social stereotypes are still relevant in society today.”

GGS’s Morna Simpson added: “We showcase women from different stages in their career, or from different working environments or from different roles in the industry, and unite them around a common theme.

“Speakers are leaders in business, culture, and academia, each inspired by technology and contributing to the industry.”

Their next event will be an InclusIQ Mentoring Workshop, held at Informatics in the University of Edinburgh, on June 4, as part of the ScotlandJS programme and is aimed at students and people in the early stages of their careers, as well as would be mentors.