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!
08.8.12 // Gail Simone at GeekGirlCon ‘12
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
08.3.12 // The GeekGirlCon ’12 Survival Guide
Hey everyone! We’re all gearing up for another successful GeekGirlCon and have put together this list for you to make sure you’re ready to go, too!
Planning is key. Even for the convention veteran, a little bit of planning can go a long way to a better con experience.
What to wear, what to wear!
For those of you that aren’t going to be in cosplay (see below) this year, dressing in layers with comfortable shoes is best. GeekGirlCon ‘12 may be in the beginning of August, but our weather in the Pacific Northwest can and will fluctuate. Bring a light jacket or a sweater for those less than sunny days.
Cosplay is the practice of dressing up in a costume to resemble a character. It’s not unusual to see cosplayers running about at a convention, and GeekGirlCon ‘12 will be no different. Of course, we do want people to keep it family friendly and safe. If you’re thinking about joining the crowd and wearing a costume, remember it must be “street legal” and no thongs or g-strings. You may be asked to cover up if we receive complaints or if GeekGirlCon staff deem the cosplay is appropriate for all ages.
Some cosplayers have weapons like pistols, shotguns, daggers, swords, staves, and other accoutrements that are key elements of the characters they portray. If you are planning to cosplay with any weapons please read our Cosplay Weapons policy. If you are new to cosplay, look for the orange tip or the “peace bonding” on weapons. Peace bonding is a ziptie that identifies your weapon to staff and attendees as safe and approved.
Many folks appreciate a great costume. If you are one of those who love to look at others’ garb and take pictures, please be considerate and ask permission prior to taking their picture. This even applies to non-costumed folks that might be wearing “THE BEST T-SHIRT EVER” or socks, or hat, or whatever. Ask first.
Trying to see it all
Carefully look over the programming of both Saturday and Sunday and plot out what ideally you would like to see. Some decisions will have to be made, you may have to choose between two or even more panels that you really, really want to see. But if you don’t plan, you might miss everything all together. Make sure you also set some time aside to check out the vendors!
Everyone must exchange their ticket for a badge at the Registration Table. Even if you’ve pre-registered, you still need to get your badge.
We’re all friends here
Remember we’re all here because we love the same things. So be awesome to your fellow geek!
It sounds silly, but remember to eat and to drink plenty of water! Sometimes you can get a bit overwhelmed at a convention and forget the most basic standards of keeping yourself healthy and energized.
When you get a lot of people in one location, it can get a little crowded and create what a lot of us know as “Con Funk”. To avoid “Con Funk,” make sure you and all of your party members remember to shower and, equally important, don’t wear heavy colognes or perfumes. Last year someone wrote that GeekGirlCon ‘11 was the best smelling con ever! Let’s keep it that way. (And a bottle of hand sanitizer is a great accessory at cons these days.)
If you’re ever confused about a procedure, lost, or just need directions, you can flag down one of our helpful volunteers who will be clearly marked (as they will be wearing bright yellow shirts that say ‘Agent’ on the back) and they’ll point you in the right direction. We also have an information booth on the first floor and staff hustling around the Con that are more than happy to assist you.
We appreciate any and all feedback! Please send all praise and suggestions to email@example.com or complete the post-con survey. Watch out website for details.
It’s your time to shine in all your geek finery at the GeekGirlCon ‘12 Masquerade hosted by GeekGirlCon’s Julia Santo and Tara, The Geeky Hostess!
The Masquerade will be held at GeekGirlCon at The Conference Center August 11th from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. in Room 303.
Competition is open to everyone–all ages, experience levels, and fandoms. Entrants will vie for Best Individual Costume, Best Group, and Best Child’s Costume.
There will also be a new non-competitive Kids’ Cosplay event from 5:00 p.m. to 5:20 p.m. – bring your costumed young ones to the Masquerade for a chance to show off their nerdiness and get a prize!
The deadline for submitting the online form is midnight, Thursday, August 9. You can also sign-up in person at the con until 3 p.m. Saturday, August 11.
- Agree to the contest rules and cosplay guidelines. Then, sign up online.
- Visit the Information Booth on Saturday and fill out your entry forms before 3:00 p.m.
- Be outside Room 303 by 4:30 to be lined up for your onstage appearance!
No costume? No problem! What’s a masquerade without an audience? Come cheer for your favorites.
I have two words for today’s GeekGirlCon ‘12 preview: Anita Sarkeesian. We are incredibly lucky to have her at our convention this year. If you didn’t know her name prior to this year, it is likely you have heard about her by now. She’s been busy lately.
For those who need the introduction, Anita is a feminist pop culture critic who produces an ongoing web series of video commentaries from a feminist/fangirl perspective at FeministFrequency.com. She explores representations of race, gender, sexuality, class, and ability in popular culture.
Recently, Anita posted a Kickstarter project to raise money for a video series, “Tropes vs Women in Video Games,” that explored female character stereotypes throughout the history of the gaming industry.
Despite the fact that she had yet to even produce one of the videos, the trolls deployed in full force. They left hateful comments on Anita’s YouTube video, repeatedly vandalized the Wikipedia page about her, and sent a number of threatening messages that went as far as threats of violence, death, sexual assault, and rape. This New Statesman article (Major trigger warning: there are some very disturbing examples) provides perhaps the most detailed look at how Anita was treated.
Anita didn’t back down, and neither did her supporters. You see, despite the horrible treatment, there is some good news to share. While she only asked for $6,000 to create this video series, Anita ended up raising over $158,000! Geeks and pop culture fans of all types came together to show their support for her project. Now that’s a movement we can all get behind.
We had a few moments to catch up with Anita and chat about this project, as well as the panels she’ll be participating in at GeekGirlCon ‘12. Enjoy!
1) Let’s talk about something positive! Tell us what it’s like to have a community rally behind you and support you, as many did with your Kickstarter project.
I’m actually not sure how to describe the feeling, but it was pretty incredible especially considering I wasn’t entirely sure I’d be able to raise my initial funding goal. In the midst of all the horrific (and at times scary) harassment, I received an outpouring of support by way of comments, private messages, video responses, and even fanart from both my long time supportive viewers and also from folks who had not heard of my web series before the Kickstarter. I feel inspired and tremendously lucky to have so many wonderful people defending and supporting me in the face of all the trolling, hate, and abuse.
2) What messages are you hoping to share at GeekGirlCon ’12?
This year I’ll be participating in a few different panels and workshops. In “Go Make Me A Sandwich: Barriers to Women’s Participation in Online and Fan Spaces,” I’ll be sharing my experiences with online harassment, as well as some strategies other women can hopefully use to protect themselves online.
During “Let’s Get Critical: Fans, Creators, and Social Justice,” I’ll be talking about the complexities of being a fan within a media landscape that is largely created for (and by) straight, white men and how we can love our fandoms while simultaneously being critical of the more problematic aspects.
Lastly, I’m co-facilitating a video making workshop called “Really Make Your Own Videoblog” with Reel Grrls. We are going to teach the basics of how to record a captivating and engaging video blog. We’re bringing filmmaking equipment and all participants will be invited to make their own videos during the workshop.
3) Aside from your panels, are there any panels or special guests you are particularly looking forward to seeing at GeekGirlCon ’12?
I’m excited about everything, and I’m trying to figure out a timey-wimey way to be at every single panel! I’m thrilled about the “Once More, with Feeling Buffy the Vampire Slayer Sing-Along” (I still believe it is one of the best hours of television, ever).
I’m looking forward to hearing Greg Rucka talk about “Why Men Write Women Poorly, and How to Get a Clue” and learning about Corrinne Yu’s experience working in the video game industry. I’m also really happy to see the subject of harassment in geek culture as the focus on a number of panels this year. I’m looking forward to learning about other women’s experiences and sharing strategies on building stronger communities to fight against sexism in geek spaces.
4) What sort of things are you geeking out about right now?
I am a big fan of the Portal video game series so I was anticipating the release of Kim Swift’s latest project this year. Quantum Conundrum is endearing and quite challenging, plus the whole game is narrated by John De Lancie giving it that extra geeky charm.
I also recently read a book series called The Steerswoman’s Road by Rosemary Kirstein. It’s such a great example of a captivating, creative and brilliant fantasy novel that stars a genuinely complex, interesting, female protagonist. I don’t want to spoil it for those that haven’t read it yet, but it’s now one of my all time favourite books which I recommend to everyone!
Thanks for your time, Anita! We look forward to hearing more from you at the convention.
07.30.12 // GeekGirlCon ’12 Preview: Women in Star Wars
We are continuing our GeekGirlCon ’12 panel preview with a look at Star Wars. On Saturday, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:20 p.m., come to Room 204 for From Jedi Princess to Sith Witch: An Exploration of Female Characters in Star Wars. Here’s a description of the panel:
Padmé Amidala and Leia Organa are icons in discussions about female characters in science fiction. Panelists will delve into the representations of females in the Expanded Universe and the recurring theme of the Jedi Princess. As a counterbalance, the Sith witches transcend the stereotypical caricatures often found in fairy tales and the “ordinary” female characters such as bounty hunters, intelligence agents, smugglers, and fighter pilots that capture our imagination without mystical powers.
Presented by Tricia Barr, Ashley Eckstein, Joanne Perrault, Linda Hansen-Raj, Joao Stinson
Star Wars is amazing because it draws equal numbers of female and male fans. Why is that? Is it because of the strong female characters in the show? Come to this panel to engage in this conversation. This is great timing, as we announced last Monday that Ashley Eckstein will be attending our convention as a guest. She will be joining this amazing panel.
We were able to snag Tricia Barr, moderator of the panel and creator of the FANgirl Blog. Tricia shared some additional details about the panel and talked about what parts of GeekGirlCon ’12 have her excited. Read on!
1. How long have you been a Star Wars fan (and how did you become one)?
I’ve been a Star Wars fan from the beginning. I still remember standing in line to see the movie with my grandparents in 1977. The opening sequence was spectacular. Then there was this princess who wasn’t like any princess I had ever seen before… (more…)
07.26.12 // GeekGirlCon ’12 Preview: Maya Bisineer
Today, we’d like everyone to meet Maya.
Maya is the founder of Memetales, a revolutionary marketplace for children’s picture books. Memetales opened its doors in March of 2010 and has been growing steadily ever since. She didn’t just stop with Memetales. Maya is also a founding board member of MomItForward and co-founded ReadingSocialMedia, a social media book club.
She is one busy and fabulous mom, geek, entrepreneur, and writer.
Maya is also dedicated to helping women realize their own potential. In fact, she will host a panel at GeekGirlCon ‘12 called “Here is Your Cape. You are a Superhero. Now Act Like One.” Join Maya on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. for this panel, and learn how you can achieve your goals. As the title implies, we can all be superheros with the right equipment. Maya will show us how to gather our own tools so we can succeed. You will learn why you should reach for the stars and how to quell that voice inside telling you that you can’t achieve your goals.
We are lucky to have someone like Maya in Seattle, and look forward to sharing her with all of you at our convention (have you bought your passes yet?).
In the meantime, leave us a comment with your favorite children’s book!