08.13.12 // GeekGirlCon Thanks You

GeekGirlCon ‘12 is a wrap, and the exhaustion is setting in. But we want to be sure to take a few moments to say thank you.

Darth Makenna stole the show at GeekGirlCon ’12

Thank you to the incredible panelists and guests, who helped us discuss incredibly important topics; geek out about comics, video games, science, technology, and pop culture; and discover how we could jumpstart our futures.

Thank you to our individual and corporate sponsors for helping us expand and grow. Without your support, none of this would have been possible.

Thank you to the amazing professionals who spent time in our GeekGirlConnections room and gave advice to attendees on how to jumpstart their careers.

Thank you to our amazing volunteers, who worked hours upon hours to keep the convention running smoothly — always with a smile on their face. You were so professional, thoughtful, helpful, and sincere. Our GeekGirlCon Agents are the best!

Thank you to the families, who came out in droves. The Zelda Family, the Darth Vader Princess (Darth Makenna), the little Wonder Woman, the robot, and every other outfit that left us “ooo”-ing and “aww”-ing. These young children are truly our future, so thank you for encouraging them to ask questions, think critically, and believe in themselves.

Last, but certainly not least, thank you to all of our attendees. You were willing to brave the traffic, you got up early to ensure you could attend every panel, you asked amazing questions, and you wanted to discuss uncomfortable yet important topics. More than 3,000 people walked through our convention doors each day.

If you were one of these 3,000+, you got to see the world premiere of Season 2 of Husbands, the webseries created by GeekGirlCon ‘12 guest Jane Espenson. Nobody else has seen this yet! You talked about sexism in geek culture in standing-room-only rooms. You connected with women from NASA, some who even had the opportunity to work on the project that successfully retrieved images from Mars. Mars, people!

She-Ra, Princess of Power!

You also sat on panels that addressed issues of diversity — in comics, pop culture, and the broader geek world. You got to hear from some of your favorite creators, leaders, activists, and entrepreneurs. And you got to enjoy our special events, including a nerdy comedy improv, a GeekGirlCONcert, a “Once More, With Feeling” sing-along, and a screening of Wonder Women! The Untold History of American Superheroines during our closing celebration.

On the gaming floor, you entered gaming tournaments and designed new games through the Mystery Box Game Design Challenge. You learned how to create a superhero mask. You learned how to play new games you hadn’t even heard of.

And, likely, you purchased a lot of adorable, beautiful, awesome stuff at our Exhibitor Hall. From math as art, to board games, to books, to socks, to jewelry, our exhibitors and artists offered a range of amazing accessories for geeks of any type.

You came in amazing cosplay, proudly representing your favorite characters. We had crossplay Avengers, a few different versions of Carmen Sandiego, and characters from Zelda, The X-Files, Buffy, The Hunger Games, Scooby Doo, and so much more.

Because of you, GeekGirlCon is gaining attention, from a CNN and Reuters article that quickly spread across the Internet, to local stories from KING 5, KIRO, KOMO, The Seattle Times, GeekWire, The Stranger, and so much more.

Because of you, we are continuing these conversations on social media, where you told us you left feeling inspired. You left feeling a part of a community, one where women support other women. You were excited to put together your own panels next year. And you were motivated to take action — whether big or small — to make an impact in the world.

Because of you, we will be able to make adjustments to ensure GeekGirlCon ‘13 is even better. Your feedback is incredibly important to us. So we encourage you to take the time to fill out our post-con survey, which you can find here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NPZCL5R. Tell us what programming and events you loved, and what you want to see more of next year.

Thank you, once again, for being a part of GeekGirlCon ‘12. For those who were unable to attend, thank you for being a part of our online conversations and for continuing to support GeekGirlCon.

Keep that fire — still burning from this weekend — alive. Don’t let it dwindle, as we’ll be back for GeekGirlCon ‘13 (date TBA). And please be sure to keep an eye on our website, as we will be hosting a number of special events in the greater Seattle area that you won’t want to miss.

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08.12.12 // Live Blog: Geek Girls in Popular Culture

Hey again! Shubz here and I’m back live blogging at Geek Girls in Popular Culture in room 301/302 with Cecil Castelluci, Sarah Kuhn, Sarah Watson, Stephanie Thorpe, and moderator Javier Grillo-Marxuach!

Questions
Why do you think that level of interest in science and mathematical persuits are less desirable in female characters?

Cecil Castellucci (CC): That character is usually designated as a sidekick.

Sarah Kuhn (SK): Is this female protagonist a good role model?

Sarah Watson (SW): I don’t think geekiness and sexiness is separate.

Is the role-model trope restricting characterization?
Stephanie Thorpe (ST): People don’t like feeling stupid in general. When someone comes across as smart, they may put on an air of condescending. We want women to be likeable, adorable, and cute. Smart tends to go with aloof a lot of the time.

Headless Heroine: Has all characteristics that can relate to a wide range of reader.

Nancy Drew as a headless heroine. Many authors have depicted her differently.

Are there any characters that you identify with?
ST: I’m influenced by the X-Files. Dana Scully was that lightening bolt – she’s a skeptic, she’s intelligent, and her scientific background. I want to see more strong characters like her.

SW: I loved the Goonies, Martha Plimpton.

CC: I loved Daria!

Thoughts on editing geek girls
ST: Depends. Sometimes they want more nerdy, sometimes they want less.

SW: I’m more of the middle man.

SK: Not a lot less nerdy notes [in scripts], but I did make notes like, “What does this mean?” Is it a reference?

CC: Made a love story about a Klingon and a Jedi. Writing a geeky character made it easy to have a demand for more geeky media and characters.

Lisabeth Salander
ST: She is a strong female lead. She’s not necessarily someone I look up to or want to be like, but I enjoy spending time reading about her.

Star Trek Characters
CC: It’s subjective. Uhura in classic Star Trek, not a nerd. Uhura in the recent film, language nerd.

Love stories with geek girls
CC: Amidala falls apart when love is threatened.

SW: Hermione is intelligent and a fighter despite her obstacles.

Changing genders in iconic characters
ST: (RE: Elementary’s Watson) If they’re doing it to add a romantic element, I’ll be disappointed.

SW: I’ve seen it and it’s fantastic. Lucy Liu brings a nurturing role to Watson.

SK: There’s a new interest piqued when you introduce new elements or changes.

CC: I’m excited!

Any socially unattractive female geek characters?
SW: In TV, everyone’s really attractive. Books offer you to create what they would look like.

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08.12.12 // Live Blog: Tech Jobs You Never Knew You Wanted

Hey everyone. We are in Room 204 for Tech Jobs You Never Knew You Wanted. Here is the description for this panel.

Tech Jobs You Never Knew You Wanted – RM204
As professional women in technology, many of us are in positions we never knew existed when we
started working. Bridging the gap can be difficult if you don’t know where to start or where to go. Panelists
include engineers and a database administrator from Twitter, a network engineer from Wikimedia, CEO
and founder at Interface Guru, and a technical project manager at Arizona State University.
Presented by Lisa Phillips, Dana Contreras, Henna Kermani, Leslie Carr, Cia Romano, Nicole Phillips

The room is packed!

Lisa Phillips is introducing the panel: let’s talk about the technology jobs you do not often hear about in the media. The women on the panel have about 40 years in combined experience. One thing that unites these women: they all love their jobs. Lisa’s handle is @lisaphillips on Twitter.

Dana (@danadanger): Working as a programmer at Twitter, working on the infrastructure (the behind-the-scenes stuff). “We are like the Postal Service for your tweets.” <– Cute! Dana doesn’t have any formal training for tech at all; she is entirely self taught.

Henna: Software engineer at Twitter in international engineering (things that make Twitter work in other languages. Henna is the only one at this table with a computer science degree.

Leslie: Works for Wikimedia, the foundation for Wikipedia. She has also worked for Craigslist and Google.

Nicole: Went to Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in design studies. After graduating, Nicole started working in sales and technical support at GoDaddy. Moved up the ladder over four years, and now works as a business analyst at Arizona State.

QUESTION: Why computer and technology jobs? Why should women work in technology?

Answers:

Leslie – I get to have pink hair, and nobody bats an eye when I interview. One of the great things about tech jobs is that you get a lot of flexibility to work from home, or work ANYWHERE. “I can work a few days from Europe if I’m on vacation.” (That sounds like magic!).

Dana – Because technology companies are always working on leading-edge stuff and people are trying to come up with new ways to think about things, that applies to business environments as well and how businesses treat employees. At Twitter, we have an open vacation policy (Susie’s note: I know Netflix does this as well).

Lisa – I have worked for a San Francisco-based company for many years (I think I heard 12 years), but have only had to work in San Francisco for two of those years. Women aren’t having to choose between children and their jobs.

Leslie – Because Wikimedia is a nonprofit, we don’t feel pressure to work insane hours. If I say I have to get something done, I get it done … but my boss never pressures me to work until midnight. “I keep fixing things, so fewer things go wrong. And then when something does go wrong, it is a challenge and I find it exciting.” <– I paraphrased, but great quote.

QUESTION: Where do you learn to do the coding / technology skills on your own?

Answers:

Lisa – In the U.S. right now, only a few states allow computer science to count toward your graduation requirements in high school.

Henna – I had done no coding until college. I have always been interested in computers, but I was always more of a book nerd. I was always interested in learning what was going on behind the scenes with computers, and that’s why I chose a computer science program. I felt like I was competing with boys who had been coding since they were 4. But I found that other boys in my classes felt that way also, as some of these boys hadn’t been coding since birth.

Lisa – A network of smart people is key. People who excel in tech are able to be okay being around people who are smarter than them. I started at an ISP (several on the panel has ISP backgrounds). There, I was given the opportunity to learn from my peers and took advantage of every opportunity. Take on projects you didn’t think you could take on. Be okay with making mistakes.

Nicole – A study found that women tend to be over-mentored. It is important to draw distinction between someone who is a mentor for you, and someone who is an advocate. A mentor is focused on giving you advice; an advocate is someone who is going to go to bat for you at a particular organization.

Leslie – Tech support is a great place to start. You get to talk to a lot of parts of your organization. This gives you the opportunity to ask people if you can learn about their jobs. You learn, and then those people no longer have to do X task. A great tip!

Another great tip from Lisa: Don’t worry about not having the qualifications that match the job skill postings 100 percent. You do not have to match the requirements exactly. Don’t be scared by that! Send your resume in for jobs if you really want to work for the company. Highlight where your experience matches their company and the job posting.

(2:00 p.m. – This blogger has to run, but hope everyone enjoys the rest of the panel)

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08.12.12 // Live(ish) Blog: Superhero/Villain Mask Making Workshop

What’s up, everyone? Shubz here with a plug for the Superhero/Villain Mask Making Workshop! Get your creativity on between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM! FYI, kids under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Mask-Making Supplies

Here’s what I started with!

This is almost complete……

The finished product!

Me (Shubz) wearing the mask in action. Note the intensity of that power kick!

Well, that was fun! Find me to check out the mask or even better, you can make your own! :D

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08.11.12 // Live Blog: Buffy, the Making of a Slayer

Almost every geek girl I run into loves Buffy. I know I do. That’s why I’m so excited for this 4:00 pm. panel: Buffy: The Making of a Slayer. Stay tuned to this blog for updates from the panel, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for live tweets from other panels.

Here’s the description for this afternoon’s panel.

Buffy: The Making of a Slayer – RM303
becker&mayer! produces extraordinary books for a worldwide roster of clients, on such geeky topics asStar TrekTransformers, Star Wars, and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer! Join editor Kjersti Egerdahl and designer Katie Benezra, together with Nancy Holder, The New York Times bestselling author and multiple Bram Stoker Award winner. They will discuss the new becker&mayer! book, Buffy: The Making of a Slayer, containing new interviews and photos. Kjersti and Katie will also talk about b&m!’s many other “geek-friendly” projects.
Presented by Nancy Holder, Kjersti Egerdahl, Katie Benezra, Amelia Riedler

Nancy Holder, Kjersti Egerdahl, and Amelia Riedler are introducing us to the book, Buffy: The Making of a Slayer. Why are we releasing this book now? Holy smokes, people — it’s the 15-year anniversary for the airing of the show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which first started running in 1997.

Amelia Riedler: Confession, I was not first a Buffy fan. I was a David Boreanaz fan first. It started with Bones, and then Angel, and then I fell in love with Buffy. Amelia is known as the resident “geek girl” at becker&mayer!, and she originally proposed the idea of doing a Buffy book.

From Amelia: Once we had the book idea approved, we needed to find an author. I started doing research, and Nancy’s name came up over and over and over. We are so grateful that she was as excited as we were to do the book. It was so amazing to have FOX on board, also.

Nancy’s Buffy experience: My co-author and I found out about Buffy coming on air, and we were incredibly excited. We loved the “Buffy talk,” now referred to as “Slayer speak.” Nancy and her co-author started writing analysis and other stuff about Buffy, and then she was offered to write the first companion guide for the show. She got to go on set!

“We got to talk to Joss a lot, and that was very, very cool.” – Nancy Holder

Nancy has been writing about Buffy for 15 years. (Dream job)

The Buffy book originally sold to the UK. Amazon now offering it in the U.S.

Nancy: “I had to …. HAD TO … watch all episodes of Buffy.” (That was sarcasm, of course.) Nancy had a hard time visualizing the book at first, but becker&mayer! were fantastic to work with.

The panelists are now showing some previews of the book. They are showing some of the sketches originally done by artists for Buffy. Awww … they are talking about some of the photos they couldn’t include in the book. Apparently, FOX had a contract with most of the main actors where they couldn’t publish ANY of the behind-the-scenes photos of these cast members. Bummer!

So many great props are included in this book! Sketches of the demons from Hush, the demon the gives Buffy the ability to hear people’s thoughts, the Mayor, the dresses from the first Halloween episode, and so much more!

Check your swag bag, attendees! You can get $5 off the Buffy book.  Also, Nancy has a new teen novel coming out, On Fire, about the “Teen Wolf” TV show. Other Nancy books: Vanquished and Zombie Apocalypse! Fightback. 

becker&mayer!’s most expensive book? Star Wars: The BlueprintsThe book includes blueprints that have — literally — never been seen by the public before. becker&mayer! also produced Alien Vault: The Definitive Story of the Making of the FilmIt. looks. awesome.

Coming out soon: Star Wars: The Ultimate Action Figure Collection. So many Star Wars  figurines. There is a surprise at the end of the book (action figures will be involved). Nobody knew — not Hasbro, who made them, or Lucas Films — how many action figures were out there. So the author had to research. The answer? Just under 2,400.

Coming out this fall: H.P. Lovecraft: Nightmare Countries, The Master of Cosmic Horror.

Alright, this blogger has to head out. Hope you are enjoying the convention, our tweets, and our blogging!

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08.11.12 // Live Blog: Expressing Your Creativity Through Audio

Hey again! Shubz here, still kickin it in Room 202 live blogging at Expressing Your Creativity Through Audio with Julie Hoverson, Gwendolyn Jensen-Woodard, and Rhys Torres-Miller!

Note: They’re speaking to this from the audio drama perspective, but it can be applied to other genres of podcasting.

Learn to do the tech work yourself.

It is time-consuming. If you want to get it right and share your creativity, take your time, and invest your time.

You can podcast inexpensively. You need (at least) a laptop and a mic.

Find your audience. It will be slow unless you want to pay for advertising. Keep in mind, that paid advertising doesn’t not guarantee more listeners and fans.

Network with other podcasts. Offer to do a review of their show. Be a part of the community.

Voice acting:
Reliability: Don’t over-commit. Commit to what you realistically can do.
Find out how much work you ACTUALLY need to do to complete it.
No one goes into voice acting because you love to entertain.

Music
Check out Kevin MacLeod’s Incompetech

Be sure to note artists’ creative commons notice.

Sound effects
Sample Swap is a free sound sample library.

If it is something you love, you find the time to do it.

Resources
Internet Archive: archive.org
WordPress: wordpress.com
Incompetech: incompeteh.com
Sample Swap: sampleswap.org
Audion Drama Talk: audiodramatalk.com

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08.11.12 // Live Blog: How to Do Your Own Kickstarter

Hi everyone – Shubz reporting! Come through to Room 202 for How to Do Your Own Kickstarter with Caytlin Vilbrandt and Tristan J. Tarwater!

Planning your campaign: decide if your project will happen “no matter what.” It will determine how you write your pitch and your donation tiers.

Kickstarter vs. IndieGoGo

About 10% of your audience will be willing to donate.

Have a budget. How much will it cost to make product, ship product, etc. Plan for the worst case scenario.

Figure out your tiers. The main price point that most people hit: $25

Treat the people who are backing you as patrons. Give them great incentives for donating.

Make sure you have enough time for your campaign. Check shipping times for people giving things to you.

Communicate with your backers. Stay in contact.

People want to give! If you have a great project and are good to your patrons, they will be excited to be your fans and give you feedback.

Learn from prior kickstarters – what works and what didn’t work.

Promotions: Word of mouth, Twitter, Facebook, Website

Stretch goals: Create them! What will you do if you’ve exceeded your initial goal? If you had the money, what would you do?

Tell people to buy your stuff! Be direct about your promoting, be excited about it, and DON’T BE SHY about your project. Cross-promote with friends that have other projects going.

How crucial is video?: DO IT! Get your face on the video. This creates a human connection.

Points to take home
Budget
Take it seriously
Treat your patrons well. They are your customers.
This is taxable income. It is NOT free money!
Do NOT cold message people about your project. Create rapport first. It is also against Kickstarter TOS.
Research!

For more information, check out:
Kickstarter: kickstarter.com
Indiegogo: indiegogo.com
IRS website (RE: reporting gross profits): irs.gov

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08.11.12 // Live Blog: Making Science Fun … With NASA

Hey, everyone. Susie Rantz here; I’ll be live-blogging at the Making Science Fun … with NASA panel. Here’s the description for this one:

Making Science Fun (with NASA)! – RM204
The Solar Dynamics Observatory’s Education and Public Outreach at NASA wants kids to be more engaged in science. This group of experienced NASA staff will give you tips from their educational programs to improve interest and science literacy in children of all backgrounds. And you will have the opportunity to ask them about what might work in your school or community.
Presented by Martha Wawro, Wendy Van Norden, Dawn Myers, Holly Csiga, Alice Enevoldsen

As a space geek, I’m really excited about this one. Lots of kids here. So awesome. Be sure to check out NASA at the GeekGirlConnections Room (101).

Holly Csiga, runs live performances at the Pacific Science Center, introducing herself: Born and raised in Alaska.

My favorite quote from her intro: “Science — when informally mixed with arts — can take you anywhere.”

Alice Enevoldsen, planetarium supervisor at the Pacific Science Center (who else loves the Science Center?). Alice started working at the planetarium in high school – wow!

My favorite quote from the intro: “Scientists are multi-faceted; they don’t just sit in a lab doing science all the time. Science is everywhere.”

Dawn Myers: Works at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Does outreach to children about science and also helps run Solar Observing satellite. Cool!

Martha Wawro is the education and outreach lead with NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Martha has been to Seattle three times in the last year for work; she also went to India to work at a space festival, and Alaska in June. Who wants her job?! :)

My favorite quote: “Our goal is to change people’s behaviors and ideas about science.”

Think Like a Scientist (tips for parents)
Encourage your kids to take notes. Any event that has multiple potential outcomes are great learning opportunities for your kids. Give kids the opportunity to think through a problem in multiple ways.

Activities
Now we are doing an activity that makes us think like a scientist. We are first being asked to OBSERVE what’s on the screen, not INFER. We are looking at footprints at the moment. Now we are being asked to INFER what happened to the footprints based on the observations. The point of this activity – we all came up with dozens of different scenarios. We don’t know for sure which scenario was right. The next step would be to do more research. The thought process with your kids is the most important process.

Select Resources Nearby

Pacific Science Center
Camps for Curious Minds (K-8)
Discovery Corps (gr. 8-12)

NASA
Women@NASA

IGNITE
Mentorship, internships

Expanding Your Horizons
Middle school and high school conferences

FabFems
Connect with local women in science, etc.

MESA
K-12 educational enrichment

NASA just introduced Camilla, their rubber chicken mascot, who HAS been to space.

In Q&A - someone asks how we can get people more excited about math. The answer? We need to keep separating math from everyone else, including science. We need to incorporate it into everyday life. There’s even a Space Math @ NASA website!

We are now talking about how to incorporate math and science into princess talk. Those cone-hats that princesses wear? That’s geometry. Making a princess dress requires measurement. We can measure the circumference of a tiara! Also, along with your bedtime stories, you can do bedtime math with your kids! Check out their website: http://bedtimemathproblem.org.

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08.11.12 // Live Blog: Let’s Get Critical: Fans, Creators, and Social Justice

What’s up, everyone! Shubz Blalack here! For those of you at the Con, join us in Room 303 for this moderated roundtable discussion with Anita Sarkeesian, Alejandra Espino, Suzanne Scott, and moderator Miley Martinez!

Alejandra Espino (AE): How can we create being politically engaged while not losing the pleasure of creation?

Anita Sarkeesian (AS): How can we be fans AND be critical? What does that mean and how do we actually do that?

Suzanne Scott (SS): Race, fandom, and social justice. Teaches about race, fandom and video game culture. How do you manage the “squee” in a critical fashion? We need to find a meaningful critical ground.

Check out the organization of transformative works!

Topics and questions raised:
How do we talk about representations of economic classes?

Chauvinism in favor of the STEM fields.

Creating characters in a feminist context in a culture of sexism.

Points made:
AE: Being critical is what fuels creativity.

Who is being represented in geek culture is not always who is consuming geek culture.

What times of fandom are industrially valued?

AS:There are a lot of interpretations of feminism and what that means.

AE: I create fantastic characters with the idea of the “outsider” in mind, someone that is marginalized.

AS: Storytelling needs to be the way we change the world.

AS: Art is to make change.

SS: More attention towards the industrial structures that promote not promote social change.

It will take a social movement for oppressive storytelling to change.

We need to spend more time to what will create change versus what will pull the focus away from it.

Closing Statements
SS: Discomfort often exposes the prejudices people have. Having a conversation about that will be a great step towards social justice.

AE: Don’t let others cease the criticism you may have.

AS: Your anger towards social injustice can be used to create something to fight it.

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08.11.12 // Follow us during GeekGirlCon 2012!

Hi everyone!

We’re going to be live tweeting, Facebooking, and blogging during the Con. Feel free to follow along and catch some of the GeekGirlCon magic!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/geekgirlcon
Twitter: @GeekGirlCon

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