Last week on 11th July 2012 I was privileged to attend the 12th edition of Leeds’ Girl Geek Dinner – held at Exposure Leeds’ former home, Old Broadcasting House. I was pretty excited about the event mainly because I consider myself slightly more technology savvy and IT-curious than an average female in her twenties. Yet I had not heard about this event before so this was a nice chance to test the waters and see what it really is all about.
A typical Girl Geek Dinner is an informal dinner that is usually held in a restaurant or with a finger food buffet followed by a presentation by someone with a depth of knowledge and true passion for their chosen subject area. Girl Geek Dinners’ formula also states that men can only attend as guests of female attendees thus ensuring that most of the attendees will still be women as intended.
The guest speaker this time was Dr. Sue Black who is a Senior Research Associate in the Software Systems Engineering group in the the Department of Computer Science at University College London and a Senior Consultant with Cornerstone Global Associates. Above it all she is an astonishingly inspiring person and true fighter for women’s equality in the ever-so-masculine field of IT.
I have to admit that by the time the presentation was about to start I felt quite small and insignificant and slightly intimidated by how well everyone seemed to know each other. I felt like an outsider walking in someone else’s territory but that fear and awe vanished when Dr. Black’s started talking.
She gave a brief but humorous overview of her life, how she started out as just a girl interested in mathematics but how her life took some different turns and how three kids later she finally made it to her degree as the first person in her family. She talked about how hard it was for her as a young and shy woman to make her way to computing and make herself heard and taken seriously in the field she was passionate about even though it was not considered feminine. She talked about her fight for women in the IT-field and her fight to save Bletchley Park where Colossus the world’s first programmable computer was built and how in 2011 she set up the <goto> foundation to popularize computer sciences in wider public and to keep the future of computing alive.
With her sincere and very easy to listen talk that felt more like a personal conversation rather than a formal presentation I grew more inspired by the minute. I learned from her that no person is too small or insignificant to make a difference if they believe passionately in something, that good outcome does not come overnight but with a little bit of persistence and a lot of guts you can achieve a lot more than you first expected or dared to hope for and that setbacks should be taken as encouragement to try even more.
Thank you Sue and thank you Girl Geek Dinner for inspiring me to aim even higher with what I am passionate about.