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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08.11.12 // GeekGirlCon ’12 Welcomes You

Welcome to GeekGirlCon ’12! I’m blown away that we’re opening the doors on our second annual convention. I can’t believe it’s been less than a year since the first ever GeekGirlCon.

GeekGirlCon ’11 was a smashing success and sold out both days. Around 2,000 people came out each day to attend panels, workshops, a burlesque show, a Labyrinth sing-along, impromptu courtyard concerts, epic gaming sessions, fantastic geeky shopping, and artist/author signing sessions. Amazing.

Jedi girls photo from Carrie Goldman Segall

Jedi girls at GeekGirlCon ’11. Photo from Carrie Goldman.

Some awesome changes for GeekGirlCon ’12 – we’re in a bigger venue, The Conference Center, in downtown Seattle; we expect around 3,500 people per day; and there’s lots more programming, panels, workshops, and gaming (tabletop and console), as well as great performance events such as a nerdy comedy improv show, a geeky concert, and a fabulous evening masquerade.

Even with our phenomenal growth, we hold true to our mission statement of supporting and celebrating geeky women. We’re still created by geeky women for geeky women; still no “geek cred” required. Be you a Trek fanatic, an amazing LARPer, an FX artist, a scientist (mad or otherwise), a librarian, a hardcore gamer, a fanfic writer, a genre reader (or writer), or any kind of geek you want to be – you are welcome.

Enjoy GeekGirlCon ’12, and thank you for making this event awesome! See you again in 2013.

Live Long and Prosper,
Erica McGillivray
GeekGirlCon President

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08.10.12 // Kid-focused activities at GeekGirlCon ’12

Are you bringing your child, grandchild, niece, or nephew to GeekGirlCon ‘12 — or are you considering it?

We highly recommend you do. Last year, around 20 percent of all attendees were children under the age of 10. We are an extremely family-friend convention.

Unless specified, GeekGirlCon programming can be enjoyed by all ages (at parental discretion of course). However, some of our programming and events are particularly geared towards geeklings (or geekling-adjacent), their parental-types, and kids of all ages. And we wanted to be sure to call them out for you in one location — so check out some of these kid-focused panels and workshops below.

Saturday

11:30 a.m – 12:20 p.m. Making Science Fun (with NASA)! (RM204)
12:30 – 1:20 p.m. From Jedi Princess to Sith Witch: An Exploration of Female Characters in Star Wars (RM204)
12:30 – 1:50 p.m. Girls Leading the Robot Uprising: FIRST Robotics (RM303)
1:30 – 2:50 p.m. Customizing My Little Ponies: Tips, Tricks, and a Basic How-To (RM202)
2:30 – 3:20 p.m. A Family that Games Together… (RM205)
2:30 – 3:20 p.m. Sporty Geek: How Roller Derby and Quidditch Are Changing the Game for Women (RM204)
3:30 – 4:20 p.m. Geeks Raising Geeks (RM205)
5:00 – 5:50 p.m. Self-Driving Cars (RM202)
5:00 – 7:00 p.m. Masquerade (RM303)


Sunday

10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (Drop In) Superhero / Villain Mask-Making Workshop (RM LL1)
10:30 – 11:20 a.m. Storytime with Susie and LB (RM205)
10:30 – 11:30 a.m. Spotlight on M.J. McDermott (RM301/302)
11:30 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. Stunning Space Science: Voyager — 12,396 days and counting (RM204)
12:30 – 1:20 p.m. Intro to Costume Craft and Cosplay (RM204)
6:00 – 7:50 p.m. Closing Celebration (RM301/302)


And, of course, check out the GeekGirlConnections room and our gaming on the Lower Level all weekend long! Fun games for all ages, activities, and interactive workshops.

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08.9.12 // GeekGirlCon ’12 Merchandise

It is the moment you have all been waiting for, one of our last big reveals for GeekGirlCon ‘12: our exclusive GeekGirlCon merch!

We know you’ll be busy catching panels, checking out games, and networking at the GeekGirlConnections room. But don’t forget to stop by the Exhibitor Hall on the third floor! You won’t regret it. In fact, you’ll likely empty your pockets after you see what the amazing exhibitors and artists have on display.

Find exclusive GeekGirlCon merchandise at Booth 300!

Preview some of the nerdtastic and geekarific products we’ll have available for purchase this year. These are exclusive and custom-designed items, folks! T-shirts, tote bags, and buttons – OH MY! We’ll also have limited (only 20!) dice bags and limited (only 50!) six-sided die, as well as a whole stack of severely awesome GeekGirlCon bumper stickers.

Here’s the pricing for our merch:
• T-shirt: $17
• Tote Bag: $12
Dice Bag: $7
Dice: $2
Bumper Sticker: $2
Buttons: 2 for $1 (We have 12 awesome designs!)

Be sure to stop by Booth 300 to get some Fresh Merch! You know you want some of that geeky goodness!

What else are you hoping to snag at GeekGirlCon ‘12?

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08.8.12 // Making Connections at GeekGirlCon ’12

We learned a lot from running our first convention last year. We learned there was incredible demand for a con that celebrated the female geek, geared towards geeky girls and women, and with no “geek cred” required. So much so, that we sold out GeekGirlCon ‘11 on both days. We learned that the famous quote from Field of Dreams is true: “If you build it, they will come.”

That goes for attendees, but the same can be said for our guests as well. We learned that experts in science, technology, comics, and other fields were extremely supportive of our mission. And we are so lucky to have a range of amazing returning and new guests coming to GeekGirlCon ‘12 — guests who enjoyed the excitement and vibe last year or who heard all the buzz and couldn’t wait to attend.

Guests like comic book writers Gail Simone, Jen Van Meter, and Greg Rucka. Or local geeks M.J. McDermott, Purple Reign, Jamala Henderson, and Corrinne Yu. Women with incredible experience, like illustrator and Womanthology creator Renae de Liz, or television writer Jane Espenson, or actress and Her Universe founder Ashley Eckstein.

Finally, we learned that you all wanted more time with these guests and other panelists, more time to learn how they achieved what they did and get tips for jumpstarting your own career.

That is why we are so excited to offer GeekGirlConnections, a room open the entire convention that will provide a place for attendees to network, make connections, and receive career advice.

It has always been the goal of GeekGirlCon to spotlight, support, and celebrate women in fields like comics and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). This year, we are taking that one step further and giving our attendees direct access to professionals who have the answers to your burning career questions.

This includes professionals like women from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory’s Education and Public Outreach team (perhaps they can talk about Curiosity’s little (okay, HUGE) trip to Mars…), professional designers, technologists, editors from Dark Horse Comics, and more.

Here’s a preview of what you can expect to find in the GeekGirlConnections room:

 Career planning support
 The opportunity to networking with professionals
• Organizations looking for YOU!

No business card? No problem– use the GeekGirlConnections Card below to share your contact info with all the new GeekGirls you meet at the Con. (Click on the image below and download.)

The biggest thing we learned from last year’s convention was that GeekGirlCon should be a place for you to make connections —  with old friends and new friends, interesting careers, cool geeky products, or with your favorite writers, producers, creators, and artists.

So be sure to stop by GeekGirlConnections in Room 101. We can’t wait to help you connect to your future!

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08.8.12 // Gail Simone at GeekGirlCon ‘12

Gail Simone

One of GeekGirlCon’s strongest advocates is none other than Gail Simone, the fantastic comic book writer at DC Comics who has worked on Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, The Fury of Firestorm, and many other great comics.

We are so fortunate to have her back for GeekGirlCon ‘12, where she’s already scheduled to participate in two panels:

Saturday, August 11, 11:30 a.m. – Gail Simone and the Batgirl of San Diego

Sunday, August 12, 11:30 a.m. – A Fate Worse than Death: The Last “Outsider” in Popular Culture – Disability

However, we knew you couldn’t handle just one panel with Gail, so today, we are happy to announce that Gail will have her own spotlight panel on Sunday, August 12. Check out the details below.

Sunday at 1:30 – 2:20 p.m. (Room 205)
SPOTLIGHT ON GAIL SIMONE
This spotlight will start with a freewheeling discussion with critically acclaimed author of comics and animation, Gail Simone, and include a question and answer session at the end. She will be discussing her comics work, from Deadpool to Simpsons to Birds of Prey to Batgirl, as well as her views on females in comics and other social issues. This promises to be a lively hour with this popular and entertaining writer!
Moderated by Erica J Heflin

Gail will also be doing a media signing starting at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday (check out our full signing schedule). And just to top off this super sundae of awesomeness with a huge bowl of cherries, Gail will be hanging out in the GeekGirlConnections room from 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. on Sunday. During this hour, Gail will be reviewing portfolios and talking to aspiring writers one-on-one.

Gail has been one of our most vocal advocates from day one. She likely convinced many of you to head to our convention (because when Gail Simone tells us to do something, we listen!). Just today, Gail posted this great blog on her website, previewing the convention and its GeekGirlConnections room.

She also had this to say about GeekGirlCon and the GeekGirlConnections room: “One of the most rewarding things, one of the best reasons for me to go to conventions, is to get to meet aspiring creators, and hopefully help give them a little bit of encouragement and real-world advice on how to attain their goals. It’s inspiring to see someone new and watch them learn to share their art and imagination with the audience.”

We can’t wait to have Gail in town for the weekend and are excited to have two more opportunities for you to interact with her during the convention.

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08.7.12 // Geek Girls Support One Another

When we say geeks of all types are welcome at GeekGirlCon, we truly mean it. You won’t be challenged to prove your love for Star Trek: The Next Generation by sketching the seating chart for Ten Forward, demonstrate your Star Wars knowledge with the cargo capacity of an Imperial I-Class Star Destroyer, or name every item in Batman’s utility belt. Whether you know everything there is to know about one thing, one thing about everything, or are just starting out in your geeky journey, you are welcome at GeekGirlCon!

Don’t believe us? Check out this No Geek Cred Required blog post we shared in advance of our convention last year.

Starting with a foundation of “no geek cred required,” we also believe it is important that we actively support women and girls in a range of passions—to make sure they feel supported, welcomed, and encouraged. We want to put this in action by helping geek girls support one another.

Credit: xkcd.com

And as GeekGirlCon ‘12 approaches in just a few days, we want to dissect what it means for geek girls to support one another. We believe there is an important underlying message at the core of this phrase—one that emphasizes support over cattiness, encouragement over judgment, collaboration over competition.

Women and girls today live in a society where they are constantly encouraged to care about how they look rather than what they know or what they do. Much of mainstream television showcases female relationships where women compete with one another, attack or belittle one another, or otherwise get ahead by undercutting other women. Other media and advertising bombard us with messages that our bodies aren’t good enough, that we aren’t whole without larger bra sizes, smaller tummies, or perfect skin.

It is no surprise these constant messages impact our behavior. Women can also be harsh critics of other women. How often do we hear things like, “I can’t believe she’s wearing that,” or “Lay off the ice cream,” or bond with other women by “hating” someone for being prettier, skinnier, or younger?

But we know there is a different path, a path that recognizes we should be supporting each other. That’s particularly true in geekdom. We all know that women can face rejection, hostility, or harassment in video games, online communities, science, and technology. So how can we start solving this problem?

We can be encouraging fellow geeky women and girls to find out where their passions truly lie, to find something to believe in that goes beyond the harmful media messages. Instead of telling a woman she needs to go away because she isn’t enough of a geek, we should be excited she wants to venture into our world in the first place. We should be inviting these women—friends, coworkers, family—to Doctor Who or Buffy marathons, or passing along our favorite comic books or craft projects. We should help each woman find her niche, niches, or just learn about something we know and love—and celebrate it with her.

Think about your best friend in the world. Think about what makes them a good friend. Perhaps it’s the fact that they’ll tell you when you have something in your teeth. Or maybe they are a great friend because they are the kind of person who will share the last piece of cake with you.

Chances are, this person has remained a best friend because they believe in you. They believe in your potential, they support you in your endeavors, and they celebrate your successes.

So, for those who are new to GeekGirlCon, we say “welcome,” and “we believe in you.” Whatever you love, whatever you “geek out” about, we think it sounds awesome. For our veterans, thank you for helping us create a community full of best friends who believe in and celebrate one another.

We hope to see you at our convention—it is one of the best ways we can show the world that geek girls exist, and we support each other.

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08.7.12 // GeekGirlCon ’12 Preview: Lady Coders

In one of our last GeekGirlCon ‘12 previews, we want to tell you about some amazing Lady Coders: Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack, Liz Dahlstrom, and Lorraine Sawiki — all female programmers.

This dynamic trio has launched a new organization, LadyCoders, which will provide seminars and trainings that help women land jobs in a technical field. They even have a Kickstarter project that ends August 14, which they are hoping will help jumpstart some of this work.

The Lady Coders are also hosting a panel at GeekGIrlCon ‘12, “A Career as a Lady Coder II: Getting the Job.” It is a follow-up to a panel hosted at last year’s convention, which focused on what it is like to code for a living and how to succeed. This year, panelists want to help you get the job. They have also added a computer science student to help show technical geeks of all types how to get on a solid path toward a rewarding programming position.

You can catch this panel on Saturday from 2:30 – 3:20 p.m. in Room 301/302.

We caught up with the panelists, and they graciously agreed to answer a few of our questions. Check out their answers below!

1: Okay, first off, we have to ask – what are you all geeky about right now?

Liz: I have a strong desire to hack into my DEFCON badge and figure out how it works!

Lorraine: I have an idea for an arduino sculpture to put in my front yard garden. I love combining my tech skills with my passions, so I’ve been getting a lot of satisfaction working on an android app as well when I have the time. I also had a blast creating the logo and web design for LadyCoders!

Tarah: I just got back from DEFCON and have discovered a newfound joy in lockpicking and cryptography. I’m also big into modifying and improving operating systems, and I am trying to match the perfect Android flavor (Vegan Tab, CM9, etc) to my gTablet. Mostly, though, I’m nerding out over the original Sandman run; I bought the original TPBs in the early 90s, but they got ripped off before I could finish them. That’s what my tablet is for now: it is a very nifty and highly specialized comic book reading machine.

2: How did you meet?

Tarah: I am a tanguera–a tango dancer. A few years ago, I met a great dancer and I keep running into him every so often; he’s a Sharepoint dev, so we keep in touch. He introduced me to Liz, who was also doing some Sharepoint work at that time, and Liz and I hit it off as developers and buddies. When I had the original idea to hold a panel at GeekGirlCon to show young women what being a software developer was like, Liz was the first person I called–and frankly, the only one. She was the only other senior software developer I knew.

Lorraine: I saw the name for Tarah’s panel at last year’s GeekGirlCon, and I thought it would be an awesome domain to build a lady-oriented technology site around. Tarah looked up ladycoders.com a few months later and was surprised that someone in Seattle, let alone another lady in tech, owned it! We met at a coffee shop and briefly discussed our interests. Afterwards, Tarah sent a quick intro to Liz that said something along the lines of “I found us a new friend!” Less than a month later, I emailed both Liz and Tarah, and even though I hardly knew them I went with my gut and proposed we start a project together. After that there was an energy and flow to our ideas, leading to our Kickstarter campaign as well as a number of other ideas for the future.

3: What has been the most rewarding thing about working together?

Lorraine: I’ve rarely worked with women on the same team, and I’ve never worked in an all-ladies tech team before! It’s been awesome to share our experiences and knowledge with each other. We also have rather varied skills, so I think we’ll be learning from each other as well.

Tarah: I would say it’s the way we pick up the reins effortlessly from each other when there’s a problem or a hitch. We all assume that the other two are competent and hardworking, and that we all have different specialties. As a result, there’s no hurt feelings or issues when someone has more experience or ability in a certain area, and they take the lead. We assume that the others have skills and abilities that we do not; I would never tell Lorraine how to design perfect UX or Liz how to create a DB structure, even though I know both of those things to some extent. They are better at them.

4: What are some obstacles each of you have faced in your individual careers and how have you overcome them?

Lorraine: There are so many things that I wish I could share with the younger version of myself. That the flexibility I so desired with my career would eventually work out. That there are multiple paths in a tech career, ranging from a traditional 9-5, to freelancing, and possibly a startup! That my desire to wear certain outfits expressed naivety more than individuality. I also didn’t know how to negotiate for a higher salary or deal with overly demanding freelancing clients. I overcame a lot of this by making good friends in the tech industry, and through the friendships getting a great ego boost about my own skills and what I’m worth.

Tarah: Often, women ask me about some of the sexual harassment I’ve had to deal with, and they’re surprised when I tell them that I have never experienced actual sexual harassment in the tech workplace…absolutely none. I have, however, seen the effects of sexism. They’re very different creatures; sexism has more to do with an unconscious assumption of incompetence than anything overt.

I know that there are at least three jobs that I have not been promoted into or gotten simply because I’m female, and the assumption was that I could not handle a team of male developers. So, I did an end run around many of the neolithic attitudes I saw by simply declaring victory and forming my own company. If I’d known how rewarding it was, I would have done it sooner. Besides, the fault usually lies on the part of sexist execs and hiring managers, not developers. Some of my best friends are male developers ;-) I guess the final lesson is that I stopped thinking of sexist hiring managers as obstacles to my career, and started thinking of them as the people who are leaving solid, hardcore programming talent on the table for me to scoop up.

5. What sort of messages are you hoping to share through your participation at GeekGirlCon ’12?

Tara, Lorraine, and Liz: Lady geeks make great friends! :) Your choices are your own. We’re going to show you that you have more choices than you thought you did. After that, it’s up to you.

Thanks, Lady Coders! Don’t forget to catch their panel this Sunday.

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08.6.12 // Video Game Character Designs, Big Fish Games, and GeekGirlCon ’12

Many of you expressed total excitement when you saw the artwork of dresses that embodied Avengers characters. These drawings came from Amanda Hemmons, a 25-year-old Seattle artist.

Amanda is also daughter of Big Fish Games’ Portuguese language editor, and when she reached out to her mom about creating a similar drawing featuring video game characters, Big Fish Games jumped at the opportunity.

Check out Amanda’s designs below, which Big Fish Games will have on display at GeekGirlCon ‘12. As GeekGirlCon President Erica McGillivray mentioned in a Wired interview about the designs, we love that they feature a range of clothing styles and include different body types and ethnicities. On top of that, these are some really great interpretations that we think will inspire cosplayers.

Could you guess all the video game characters? You can confirm your guesses over at Big Fish Games’ blog.

Be sure to check them out in person at our convention this weekend (and don’t forget to buy your passes before we sell out).

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