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The first ever Singapore Geek Girls event — girls, guys, and geeks galore

 

This is a edited version of the original blogpost by Zane Kripe, a PhD student at the Leiden University Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology. Zane is currently researching geek culture in South East Asia (Singapore, Indonesia) and explores what it means to be a geek in the region.

 

 

 

On 7th January, I had a wonderful opportunity to take part in the first Singapore Geek Girls meetup organized by Joyce Huang and Mingfei Yan. Being a girl myself I am very interested in what it means to be a geek girl in Singapore and I was extremely lucky to arrive in Singapore right on time for it.

I believe it was two months ago that the idea of the group was born and it apparently addresses a hot spot here in Singapore, as more than 30 people gathered in the cozy Group Therapy Coffee on a Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t a girls-only event and we had six guys who seemed to feel rather comfortable amongst dozens of cheerful and excited girls.

As Joyce in her opening speech explained – the main reason to initiate this coming together was from her personal experience of being one of the 5 girls versus 30 guys at her workplace. “Enough with the dirty jokes!”, she said, and a slew of ‘we-know-what-you-mean’ laughter came from the rest of the ladies.

With some support from guys in the community, girls can also change the world via technology and design. Joyce drafted a proposal where SG Geek Girls will organize meet-ups (once every two months), talks, workshops, bootcamps and other events. She also stressed that what SG Geek Girls becomes would depend on the interests and input from the community.

With some support from guys in the community, girls can also change the world via technology and design. Joyce drafted a proposal where SG Geek Girls will organize meet-ups (once every two months), talks, workshops, bootcamps and other events. She also stressed that what SG Geek Girls becomes would depend on the interests and input from the community.

The girls took turns to listen and share about their interests and motivations

We did a wonderful introduction round where each person explained their interests and motivations for attending and was supported by applause and very often also cheers. Although the event brought together diverse groups of people, I would say that majority of the girls were recent or soon-to-be graduates of the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University and were mainly interested in meeting like-minded girls who have an interest in technology.

While some girls had a technical background, many girls expressed their interest in learning programming. Working in close contact with geeky guys and not understanding the language they speak in (programming languages after all are languages, right?) seems to be an issue of control {when he says this can not be done, is it true?} and also empowerment {to make the website the way I feel it should be, I need to know how to make it}. A few of the girls wanted to start or has already started their own companies.

With just the ladies

I had multiple lovely conversations with girls that afternoon and a point that I kept thinking long after the meeting was regarding the acquisition of knowledge. Very often we feel like other people ‘just somehow know it all’– as if guys magically internalized up-to date knowledge about gadgets and sports tournaments.

I bet that from the guys’ perspective it might seem as well that girls are similarly born with internal knowledge about cosmetics and celebrity

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weddings. None of which is true. It’s all just a matter of practices that we observe and repeat, and the conversations that we have with people around us on an every day basis.

Having the experience of being a minority back at Media Tech (we were

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a group of 20 guys and 4 girls), I can relate to many sentiments shared in the meetup. I truly believe that it is important to create a space where girls can come together, discuss technology in a manner that reflects how they feel about it — including dreams as well as insecurities — and enrich themselves with the support they get from others.

Thumbs up to Joyce and Mingfei for initiating this and I wish for the SG Geek Girls’ community to grow stronger and prosper. I was very happy to see that a lot of inspiration for this event stemmed from Hackerspace SG. While sustaining a strong community is not an easy task, the atmosphere was full of excitement and that is a good starting point.

PS. Guys are always warmly welcomed to join as long as they bring girls along.

Check out the Singapore Geek Girls Facebook Page for more updates of upcoming events.

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