Tired of finding herself in the minority at computer conferences, Heidi Harman decided to set up a network of her own. So she co-founded Geek Girl, a social network for women who are into IT. On April 29, 2012, the first UK Geek Girl Meetup was arranged in London. Sweden.se met Harman to talk about women and the web.
Heidi Harman and Andie Nordgren. Photo: Private
Heidi Harman, why did you set up Geek Girl?
"We were going to a lot of conferences and women were always in minority. We saw the need for a network of women you could talk code with, girls who know the web and business development. We wanted to be in the majority. So I sent Andie Nordgren a Twitter message and in 2008 we arranged two events at which a few of us met up and had some beers. Then, in March 2009, we organized our first conference. It went really well, with 65 people attending even though we only had capacity for 50."
How many Geek Girls are there in Sweden?
"We don’t have any official members, as we’re not a formal organization. We’re a loosely connected group of women driven by a shared interest in the web, code and business development. Our Geek Girl Meetups differ from a lot of other events; everyone who attends can run their own session about something nerdy that only they know about."
Does Geek Girl exist in other countries?
"All over the world! There are Geek Girl dinners and Geek Girl bar camps where you can hang out in a bar and discuss technology. We wanted to stretch that concept to a conference, to customize it in a way that’s best for us."
Has the Geek Girl network developed in the way you imagined?
"It’s definitely exceeded our expectations. The fact that our meetings usually book up very quickly is awesome and proves there’s a need for this."
What do you do when you’re not busy with Geek Girl?
"I run my own start-up website, www.runalong.se. It’s for female runners and lets them find other women to run with. I received a grant of around SEK 1 million (USD 150,000), which is divided between a researcher, a technician and me."
Have you been empowered by Geek Girl?
"Absolutely! I’ve developed my female network and I’ve been able to pass along job opportunities and have received offers myself. I’ve also discovered a wide range of consultants to work with."Swedish Geek Girls say hello to Mexican Geek Girls.
Anna Sandelin is a freelance journalist based in Stockholm. She’s always been impressed by people with good computer skills, and wishes she were more of a nerd herself.
This is an updated version of an article from October 2009.
The author alone is responsible for the opinions expressed in this article.
Published by the Swedish Institute on www.sweden.se. All content is protected by Swedish copyright law. The text may be reproduced, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast in any media for non-commercial use with reference to www.sweden.se. However, no photographs or illustrations may be used. For more information on general copyright and permission click here. If you have any questions please contact webmaster.