Bay Area Girl Geeks: The Seventh Wave

Girl Geek logoTuesday, August 3: I attended the Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners event #7, this time hosted by Yahoo! at our Sunnyvale headquarters. The purple carpet was duly laid for the festive, sold-out event.

After collecting my Code Like A Girl t-shirt and sticker, I scampered to the bar for my gin-and-tonic, then wandered into the crowd to meet and/or catch up with other women in high-tech. Attendees ran the gamut from the deeply technical engineers to the technical marketing crowd.

Aurora Skarra-Gallagher and Brenda O'KaneYahoo! had posted several demo stations, interspersed with the food table and bar, featuring technology at play here. The picture at left shows girl geeks Aurora Skarra-Gallagher (a Senior Software Engineer in the Yahoo! Open Strategy Advanced Products team) and Brenda O'Kane (a Director of Technology in YOS) ready to explain Yahoo! Query Language (YQL) &mdash an expressive SQL-like language that lets you query, filter and join data across Web services. Other demo stations included YUI, web performance, innovation at scale, infinite browse system, and accessibility.

Geeks around the Sherpa demo stationOther Yahoo! girl geeks providing demos included: YUI senior engineer Jenny Han Donnelly; Web performance software engineers Antonia Kwok and Betty Tso; linguistics lead Yookyung Kim on the infinite browse system; research scientist Debora Donato on search; software systems developer Priyanka Shah on Sherpa; and design strategist Jung Eun Kim, interaction designer Shannyn Timrott, and product designer Cindy Li on accessibility.

The evening's keynote speaker was Hilary Schneider (Yahoo! Americas EVP), who delivered a warm talk on how she got to where she is now. She mentioned the importance of seeking out mentors and bosses who bring out the best in you, and of having faith in your own luck and ability to reach success. If you project confidence, people will assume you can do it &mdash and you will.

the cakeCheryl Ainoa (Yahoo! SVP Global Service Engineering) then gave an impassioned presentation on what keeps her at Yahoo! and still excited after 7+ years on the job: the scale of problems and solutions she is expected to handle. With over 600 million users, Yahoo! is one of only a handful of companies that stretches the boundaries of the magnitude of hardware and software solutions that are required. If you like hard problems, this is the place to be.

The cake was gorgeously clever, with the Girl Geek monitor screen and various product logos around the base. Thanks to the hard-working Yahoo! folks who put on the dinner.

I'm looking forward to the next event, wherever it may be. (Previous dinners have been hosted by Polyvore, Google, Lolapps, and the She's Geeky unconference.) As Hilary pointed out, the girl-geek connection in the Bay Area is consistently invaluable, with fellow technologists (even at competing companies) willing to lend advice or recommend solutions. It's all good!

Thanks to Yahoo! girl geek Stacy Milman for the photos.