I’ll admit that my headline was slightly click bait like. But I wanted to get your attention. A few weeks ago we hosted the second dinner for 2016 of the Girl Geek Dinners Johannesburg. Tech Girl was invited, at the beginning of the year, to come on as the official media partner and I’ve spent a considerable amount of my free time hunting down goodies for our goodie bags and sourcing interesting speakers. Leigh-Ann Fowle and Kirsty Sharman started the dinners in Johannesburg a few years back and are still very much involved. We all dedicate a considerable amount of our personal time to the dinners, as do so many others (shout out to Jade here who always offers to help! Thank you!).
Our more recent dinner took place at Hard Rock Cafe on Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton. This is one of my favourite local restaurants, predominantly because of the gorgeous collectors items they have gracing the walls. If you’re a music fan you’re in for a real treat! The food is also rather delicious. Think sliders (mini burgers), yummy Tacos and Cheesy nachos. I think anyone in attendance can agree that the food at Hard Rock goes down as some of the best.
While the ladies in attendance enjoyed a wine tasting arranged by Van Loveren Wines, I was manning the entrance desk. We had a section of the restaurant dedicated to the dinner but the bar and outside area was still open to the general public. Two men at the bar came over to me and asked me what was going on. They’d been listening to our wonderful speaker, Lori Milner, who recently co-authored Own Your Space. Lori was discussing how we, as females, can better function in the corporate arena and, ultimately, own our own space. The gents announced to me that they thought the dinners were sexist.
I had a good chuckle because the dinners have never specified that men cannot attend. Over the last few we’ve had a few gents added to the guest list and they’ve all had a great time (ask them!). While our focus has always been on uplifting women in the tech space, over the years I think the Girl Geek Dinners have grown to encompass something more. They’ve grown to represent the coming together of positive individuals (yes, mainly females) and sharing information relating to the corporate and tech space while just giving attendees a great night out and opportunity to meet new friends.
Sexism is defined as (pulled from Merriam-Webster):
1 : prejudice or discrimination based on sex; 2 : behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex.
I think the very thing the Girl Geek Dinners do is go against sexism. We don’t discriminate and we try counter those typical stereotypes placed on women in the corporate sector (specifically industries like technology) while also encouraging open dialogue and education. It’s an interesting discussion that has touched a cord with me. Recently I was made aware that a few of my (male) colleagues in the industry had verbalised that Tech Girl, as a blog, was anti-feminist. That the content I was producing went against everything it should stand for. It’s an interesting thought really. This blog was built by me from the ground up and anything it stands for is what I stand for. What should it stand for? Blogs are an extension of ourselves and so they can only really embody our own thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I’ve always felt confident in my space as a woman crafting content in the gaming and technology space. Because of this confidence I’ve also been able to embody a sense of humour and been able to take a tongue in cheek look at certain aspects of the industry. I like that about me and, I hope, others like that about the blog. I’m proud of what I produce and proud of the spare time I’ll happily sacrifice to hunting down sponsors for an event like the Girl Geek Dinners or helping a fellow woman fight a Tinder battle.
I think this is what the Girl Geek Dinners are about.
They’re not about sexism, or discrimination of women in the tech space or about one upping your social network. They’re about a group of women helping each other love who they are. They’re about us supporting and uplifting one another in a space that is fun and friendly. They’re about all the good we sometimes miss.
It’s a special organisation and one I’m proud to be apart of.
So to answer the initial question: no, the Girl Geek Dinners are most definitely not sexist.
They’re a fantastic opportunity for us to uplift one another, women or men, in a fun space over a good glass of wine. You also get to take home a really great goodie bag packed with some great products. This last dinner saw a voucher from AlwaysOn (I spent mine in the airport on the way to rAge), a sample can of Batiste dry shampoo (my go to after gym), funky socks from ToePorn, a Cadbury PS bar and vouchers from Take Charge SA, Placecol, Poise Brands and the Blogger workshop happening in Johannesburg later this month.
I’d love you to attend our next dinner which we’re in the process of planning. Have you been to one of the Girl Geek Dinners? What did you think? I’d love your feedback (positive or negative) in the comments below.