When I was initially invited to attend the latest Girl Geek Dinner, I was of course hesitant. Geek? Sure. Girl? Not quite. Guy geek? For sure. In any case, it seems I fulfilled 50% of the requirement, so I didn't feel totally out of place. This is a place for folks in my same industry, of course, so I shouldn't feel too hesitant. That and the fact that I found some of my girl geek coworkers to hang out with, so it wasn't all that bad. (I should also say that they are more than welcoming of guys in attendance!)
Getting to the dinner on this rainy night was not troublesome for me, since I'm a Yahoo! employee. I literally walked from one building to the other, with my camera bag in tow. OK, so I cheated! It's not my fault Yahoo! hosts so many awesome events right on campus and makes it so easy to get to them.
I worked my way inside and hesitantly approached the sign-up desk. I gave them my name and felt I had to justify being at what seemed like an exclusive club, but the lady at the counter smiled, handed me my badge, and directed me to get my awesome bag/purse. You can't have an awesome geek event without swag of some sort, so that's one to check off the list!
I worked my way through the curtains and made my way to a girl geek's networking paradise. There were lots of folks hanging around chatting under fake palm trees, and a stage being readied for a panel discussion, with images of famous women projected on the screen.
I made my way deeper into the crowd and found a nice impromptu bar. I definitely took advantage of it through the night, though I'm not too much of an alcohol drinker, so I only ordered a few cokes. OK, that's not too manly of me. I apologize for the disappointment.
As I made my way deeper into the room, I uncovered a scene that would've made any foodie excited: all variety of foods, from meatballs in tasty marinara sauce to chicken skewers, to exotic cheeses and vegetables. Deeper still I found the desserts: several chocolate fountains, with various desserts lined up neatly around the table, ready for dipping. To tell you the truth I've never "experienced" a chocolate foundation before, so I dipped in a banana to try it out. Delicious! Then I saw the sticks on the side. I guess I was supposed to put it on the end of the stick before dipping. But no one noticed my faux pas, save for the fact I'm writing about it here. So ended my first chocolate fountain experience.
All in all, the food itself made quite an impression on me. Here I am at a geek event and I expect to see pizza, the cheap and boring de facto standard. What we had here was much better than pizza. And more varied! For instance I didn't even know the names of all the cheeses on the table. Enough with the food! I'm starting to get hungry just writing about it.
There was of course more than just networking and food! There were several stations set up around the back to showcase some Yahoo stuff, with some girl geeks dutifully demo'ing technologies such as Connected TV, Mobile Performance Tools, Hadoop, and Livestand on iPad. The fine folks you see in the picture above make up the Exceptional Performance team, and were showing off new ways to profile performance on devices such as the iPhone and iPad. Folks were huddled around each table and definitely kept them busy answering questions.
Between the waves of people, the people running each table managed to sneak away occassionally to grab some delicious food. Hey, they have to eat too, after all!
Next to these tables were some fun, interactive stations: one was running a "Women in History" Jeopardy game, and another let groups dress up and pose in goofy clothes, resulting in a 5-second video clip, which was instantly printed and assembled into a nifty flipbook. It was definitely fun to watch each group go in and awkwardly prepare for the unique experience. And of course hilarious to see them act out for the video clip.
To wrap up the night, there was a panel discussion with some Yahoo! women who came together to share insights and thoughts from their years of combined experience. Their wisdom definitely bridged the gender gap. I remember one particular piece of advice: Sometimes too much is too much and you have to treat yourself right, such as asking a friend to page or call you in order to escape a meeting. There's only so many meetings a human being can take, so this piece of advice resonated with many people in the room. Both girls and guys for sure!
All in all, the Girl Geek Dinner was an interesting and fun experience. In an industry dominated by guys, it's an interesting perspective to see the balance flipped. It was definitely good to see the amount of networking and socializing going on, even if it was a challenge for me to work my way in.
And yes, the food was definitely superior. Several kinds of cheese and multiple chocolate fountains trumps pizza any day!
See more pics on my Flickr stream.