Why I Love Geek Girl; And Why You Should, Too

In all the years of creating events for Geek Girl we always knew we had a lot of fans out there. Little did we know how truly awesome and from how far away they really are.


I’ve been meaning to write this post forever. And I am kind of glad I waited until now because today was one of those days that I just could not get out of my own way and could not get focused or even excited about sitting down to work on new, exciting and important Geek Girl updates and changes. Maybe because it’s Monday. Ick. Maybe it’s because I am just ComicCon-ned out from this weekend. Or maybe the abnormal San Diego humidity just wiped me out. Or maybe dreaming of blood-sucking vampire worms crawling inside my face from watching Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain last night made me restless. Thanks Guillermo. Or maybe the fact I cannot find my dark French roast coffee beans and I had no coffee. Whatever the case, I definitely needed a kick in the ass.

Then I saw something that just made me light up and smile. If you can manage to take a few minutes and read this, I guarantee you that it will make you smile as well.

This past March at our Geek Girl Boston South TechCon, I was notified by our staff that a family of 3 were interested in coming to TechCon who were from out of town. At the time, we were so crazy-busy, “out of town” mostly meant they were driving down from New Hampshire or, God forbid, might be coming from Rhode Island where they have to pack their passport, a change of clothes and a picnic to drive more than an hour. I’m originally from Rhode Island so I can say this. Because it’s true. 😉

If you have ever been to a Geek Girl Tech Conference in the last 6 years since we have been doing them around the country, then you know how fast the day goes by and if you don’t focus or you look down for a minute, you might miss something. I might have missed an incredible opportunity to meet the people who we essentially are creating the events for: women and girls who want to learn more about tech to get ahead in life, find their dream job, start their dream company and become Geek Girls themselves by kicking aside the notion that there are not a lot of women in tech.

This was the first time at a TechCon that I tried to spend as much time as possible on the floor and talk and meet with as many people as possible. It’s always proven difficult being pulled in a million different directions, but with a competent staff and awesome volunteers, it is getting better every year. And I am so glad I learned to stop finding what is going wrong at an event and quickly fix it, but rather take it all in that which is going RIGHT. It’s quite the feeling to see the accomplishments and see how far we have all come in the 7 years. And for that I am forever grateful to the friends, instructors, volunteers, supporters, attendees, fans, evangelists, sponsors, advertisers, and all of you lovely people with Geek Girl stickers on your cars and laptops who have never been able to get to an event yet but who support us from afar.

As I was walking in the expo area, one of my cohorts introduced me to the VendeVen family.


Our extended Geek Girl family from Louisiana!: Kristen VandeVen, Anna Camille VandeVen, and grandma Brenda Funderburg.


Mom, daughter and grandma. All hailing from the great State of Louisiana. Newellton, Louisiana, to be exact. Near West Monroe where maybe a few of you have heard of some bearded guys who put together duck calls.

So there I met the lovely mom, Kristen, who works at Cross Keys Bank in town, and her sweet gem of a daughter, Anna Camille. And grandma, a very young at heart grandma, Brenda Funderburg, who made the trip as well.

They came up to TechCon after finding us online, booking their flights to Boston, getting a rental car to drive to Plymouth, MA. and getting their tickets to TechCon for March 22nd. Mind you, we are not talking about a family raised with a silver spoon. These are your average middle-class, hard-working, salt of the earth people from a small town where community is everything. They believe in education, improving themselves and making things better for their kids. And having that dream job.

All because they believed that learning and educating themselves on technology was not defined by age, distance or not knowing one soul when they arrived. Kristen was determined to learn as much as she can to bring her knowledge back home and use it at the bank and educate others. I had the opportunity to speak to them all that day, that night at the reception, and our team invited them to come join us for an instructor breakfast the next morning. After all, they were family now. Geek Girls united!

Since that time, the family and I have kept in touch by text and email, they are constantly online checking out what we are doing on Social Media and we send gifts back to each other. They are constantly pleading with us to start a Geek Girl group in northeastern Louisiana and do a TechCon because their community needs it, they tell us.

Anna Camille drew me this Geek Girl! I love it!

Anna Camille drew me this Geek Girl! I love it!


I never want to let this family go. And I cannot wait to see them again.

Because they brought back to me the reason I started Geek Girl back in 2006. To democratize and make technology accessible to everyone and take the difficulty out of learning and make it fun, from 8-88, women and men, and empower, educate and inspire those who want to come along. THESE were my people. THIS was my mission.

Whenever I get disheartened when a woman who needs help with her computer just gives up and has her kids do it, or calls herself stupid or too old to learn, I used to feel sorry for them and poo-poo them, spending hours convincing them why they need get confident in their abilities and do this themselves. Not any more. We are all about tough love here and if you want to get things down and get ahead, always remember the family from Louisiana who just made the decision to come and did it. That’s confidence. Just get it done. It’s hard work to learn something you don’t know about, especially for women and men passed over by technology. These include our seniors, our immigrants and the underserved and underrepresented areas all over the country where confidence and new computers are lacking.

If you ever think you can’t learn something new, then call me, email me or text me. I will prove you wrong. I know everyone has the ability in themselves to improve, grown confidence, get that dream job, build your dream business and most of all, kick some ass.

If you need help, come to one of our Geek Girl TechCons, or one of our events, workshops, meetups or seminars to learn more. Or Hire a Geek Girl. Our reach is limited at this time but we are growing.

And if you already ARE a Geek Girl, then why don’t you become a part of Geek Girl and help others in your community.

Oh, and just so you know, YES…we are planning on doing a Geek Girl TechCon somewhere in Newellton, Louisiana…some day…..

Little sister Katie sporting her Geek Girl camo at camp!

Little sister Katie sporting her Geek Girl camo at camp!


The Value of Women in Startups

Some things to note: Women earn more than 50% of all bachelor’s and master’s degrees,  nearly half of all doctorates, yet under 3% start technology companies and even less on management teams. We’re changing this, but we need more ladies involved. Get involved!

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The Value of Women in Startups

Google Awards Ada Lovelace the World’s First Computer Programmer with a Doodle

Anyone notice the Google doodle for Ada Lovelace today? If you aren’t aware of Ada Lovelace, she is credited with being the first computer programmer. Not to mention the first female programmer. ‘The Enchantress of Numbers’, as Ada was called, partnered with Charles Babbage, know as the ‘Father of the Computer’ to create  applications for his modern computer. Many people feel as though if she had not such a celebrity father – Lord Byron – she might have slipped into oblivion. Babbage created the Analytical Engine, but history proves Ada Lovelace was able to understand it and devise its uses and applications for a super calculator. Thus earning her the right as ‘The Word’s First Computer Programmer’.

If you love Ada as much as we do, check out our tshirts: ‘Ada Lovelace – the Original Geek Girl’. Only $25!

Meet the Ladies on the Panel for our Special Event: Women in San Diego Tech Startups Part Deux

If you are in the San Diego area on August 1st – and it does not matter if you are into tech startups or not – why not saunter over to Co-Merge Workplace for an evening of inspiration, hidden voices in the tech community, some bawdy laughter and brilliant women.  We are having our second in a series of introducing incredible women who are founders of startups, engineers, programmers, CEOs or women who are in high positions at tech companies in the San Diego area and beyond.

We encourage you to support women in tech in any way you can, by attending this free event, becoming a sponsor, offering some giveaways, writing a story or blog post on this, or even just chatting it up online to encourage others to come.

If you did not get to see our first panel, here are Part 1 and Part 2 of our first panel on Women in San Diego Tech Startups and Companies.

Here’s the 911 – hope to see you there!

The Event:

August 1st, 2012 – 6-pm – Special Event: Women in San Diego Tech Startups Part Deux (Panel)

Co-Merge Workplace – 330 A St, San Diego, CA (Map)  Parking info: Where to park around Co-Merge

Signup here! Geek Girl San Diego


The Idea:

What’s it like to work for a Tech Startup?

What’s it like to be a Woman working for a Tech Startup or Tech Company in San Diego?

We are honored to have some of the coolest Geek Girls in San Diego to answer these questions and more for you!


The Agenda:

6:00pm – Networking, Mingle with Sponsors, Demos, Beverages

7:00pm – Introduction of Sponsors, Panelists, VIPs

7:20-8:30pm – Panel Discussion

8:30- 9:00pm – Q&A, Giveaways and Closing Remarks


Our awesome Sponsors!


The Panel:

Liz Gasser, Sr. Director, Business Development, Qualcomm

Liz Gasser is senior director of business development for Qualcomm. Gasser is responsible for developing business strategies for new technologies and platforms that Qualcomm is seeking to commercialize through its global market development and Qualcomm Labs groups.

Prior to this role, Gasser led strategic business development for Qualcomm Internet Services, where she focused on new business, partnership, and innovation opportunities. She drove the acquisition of Xiam Technologies in 2008, reinforcing the group’s ability to deliver more engaging and contextual mobile experiences.

Before coming to Qualcomm in 2006, Gasser spent five years at Openwave Systems, where she held a variety of roles in business strategy, product marketing and product management. Prior to Openwave, Gasser worked as a management consultant in both San Francisco and London engaging with companies on go-to-market strategy, deregulation, and market due diligence.

Gasser holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in economics from Cambridge University.


Fallon Chen, Engineer,  Bands in Town

Fallon Chen is a data engineer at Bandsintown, where she writes and manages the data gathering software and event database behind the Bandsintown apps. Prior to joining Bandsintown, she was a part of the DBS Kernel Research and Development Group at Teradata.Fallon holds a master’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of California, San Diego, where she studied the performance of distributed anonymity systems under the guidance of Dr. Joseph Pasquale.


Juliet Oberding, Founder (CEO) Predictably Well and Startup Attorney

Attorney with 20 + years experience in complex litigation, intellectual property advising start- ups through Fortune 500 companies. Experience leading teams and managing settlement negotiation in large, multi-party, complex litigation. Founder of Oberding Law, a law practice focusing on business and intellectual property. Professor of Intellectual Property at University of San Diego. Mentor and local facilitator for the Stanford Tech Entrepreneurship online class by Chuck Eesley. Startup Weekend Mentor. AT&T San Diego Apps Challenge Popular Choice Grand Prize Winner. Co-author with Terje Norderhaug of the first published academic article to discuss the challenges to intellectual property law posed by linking and inlining on the web.



Anjali Cameron, Founder, TripLark

Anjali Tuljapurkar Cameron is the founder of TripLark, which aims to save travelers time and energy when they plan travel. Anjali has over 6 years of marketing experience and worked in consumer marketing for Yahoo! prior to founding TripLark. She holds a BA from Brown University and an MBA from Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Follow @TripLark on Twitter for the latest TripLark travel plans and company updates.


Kimberly Spillman, Member of Technical Staff, ViaSat

Kimberly Spillman has B.S. and M.S. from UCSD in computer science.  She has over ten years experience in a large variety of work settings including work abroad in England and Australia, government contracting, private enterprise, startups, extremely small companies, mid-sized and large companies, working as the only woman in the office, and working with several other female engineers.  She has been co-organizing meetups for the San Diego Artificial Intelligence study group, San Diego Hackers and Founders and San Diego Python Users Group.