Girls, Geeks and Crowdsourced Cake

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This was first published in Linux Voice August 2014 - http://www.lizhardwick.co.uk/LinuxVoice

Being a woman who works in technology, means you’re normally the only girl geek in the room.

Manchester Girl Geeks Barcamp was organised to help redress that balance and give women the confidence and supportive environment to attend, possibly their first geeky conference. It’s always been important to me to support women-friendly events rather than women-only, that’s what @mcrgirlgeeks is all about.

A team of 4 of us girl geeks set about organising the second, affectionately named #bracamp back in January, and saw over 100 attendees of all genders, fill the Geoffrey Manton building at Manchester Metropolitan University on the 31st May.
It was a full day of “un-conference” talks (where the attendees set the topics), networking, and sometimes the most important things… brews and cake… lots of cake… crowd sourced cake at that!

Manchester Girl Geeks regularly runs dinners and afternoon tea parties with different STEM themes, and some of these topics were seen at Manchester Girl Geek’s largest ever event. Some talks included Data and Healthcare, Social Media for Positive Change, Quantified Self and a strand of women in science and tech talks from our venue hosts, The Institute of Humanities and Social Science Research.
My personal favourites from the talk line-up came from @Jarofgreen on OpenCal, an open source online calendar for groups and events, and @DefProc who shared Internet of Toys with us, along with @Bubblino who got a mention.

As a speaker at various events around the UK, it’s easy to feel when the atmosphere is right, everyone on the day was positive, buzzing and chatting with each other. There were friends being made, contacts being swapped and newbies doing their first ever talks. There was a mix of geeks, event organisers, non-geeks and others just interested in learning new things, it was a great vibe, one I would recommend anyone join.

We also got some brilliant community groups to come and share their projects with the attendees. We had The Raspberry Pi Foundation and Manchester Raspberry Jam, the fabulous ScienceGrrl, and the hacking-all-the-things HacMan (Manchester’s Hackspace).

A massive thanks to them, and all our sponsors, but most of all the attendees, who made it such an awesome event. Hopefully it goes some way into helping people realise… girls can be geeks too!