appmarsh | With girls at its center, GeekGirlCon celebrates geeky minorities and fanatics of every age

GeekGirlCon 2019 attendees play video games on Nintendo 64. (Photograph courtesy of Sayed Alamy, GeekGirlCon)

There was once a well-liked Scott Pilgrim dialogue happening on the similar time. However the room was once nonetheless packed at an unassuming panel referred to as “Geek Ladies Exist” on the 2019 San Diego Comedian-Con. It was once transparent {that a} conference focused round geeky girls was once no longer most effective believable however is also a hit.

The ones at the panel and lots of supporters put their heads in combination and the end result was once GeekGirlCon, an annual party of the feminine geek. The primary display came about in a few rooms at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Tradition (then referred to as EMP) in 2019 and has since grown right into a motion.

Greater than 11,000 other folks attended the display in 2019, just about triple the headcount from the unique tournament. This 12 months’s display takes position Nov. 16-17 on the Washington State Conference Heart and simply as many, if no longer extra persons are anticipated to prove this 12 months.

GeekGirlCon goals to be a welcoming position that permits a wide variety of geeks to take part. Kristine Hassell, one of the unique founders of the display who lately serves because the con’s director of group engagement, shared a tale maximum geeky girls have skilled. It was once difficult no longer somewhat becoming in with the “commonplace” crowd, but additionally arduous to mod the hardcore geeky teams.

“As an established geek — or an outdated, as I love to funny story — I consider how setting apart it felt with old-fashioned nerds who embarrassed you if you were not 100 p.c an expert within the fandoms that you simply liked,” stated Hassell.

Sonia Michaels, a senior lecturer at DigiPen Institute of Era and long-time attendee, famous how the perception of “geek” has advanced, particularly for women folk.

“I grew up within the 70s and 80s, when the phrases ‘geek’ and ‘nerd’ used to get thrown round as insults, and when even the outcast ‘nerd’ teams did not admit women,” she stated. “It’s been glorious to peer geekdom changing into increasingly standard through the years and to peer such a lot of women and younger girls unashamedly embracing the issues they love to be told and do.”

Kristie Reddick of The Malicious program Chicks presentations a tarantula to a gaggle of children within the DIY Science Zone at GeekGirlCon 2019. (Nicole Tanner Photograph)

Not like one of the most higher comic-cons, younger attendees have all the time been a centerpiece of GeekGirlCon. Hassell stated one of the most productive portions of the development is the DIY Science Zone, a piece of the primary flooring devoted to serving to younger attendees find out about science via quite a lot of hands-on actions taught by way of girls operating in STEM fields.

“It was once a very simple resolution to incorporate children in our programming through the years,” stated Hassell. “Do you consider the D&D crimson field as your first RPG revel in? Or do you fondly recall your first house online game console or laptop? The ones fanatics have households now, and it was once a herbal development for the ones folks to proportion Famous person Wars or Physician Who or the joys of rolling initiative with their burgeoning geeks.”

As a long-time attendee and speaker with a tender daughter, I will be able to attest to the price of the DIY Science Zone. My daughter has been attending the con since she was once 3 years outdated (she’s now 7) and it is all the time our first forestall. Whilst there are mainstays within the house, like The Bug Chicks (my daughter’s favourite), the experiments and actions range from 12 months to 12 months. Ultimate 12 months my daughter made a mummified gummy shark and extracted DNA from a strawberry.

Younger women making “slime” at GeekGirlCon 2019 (Photograph courtesy of Isaac Bender)

However children are most effective one a part of the equation. The display actively pursues alternatives to assist the geek group unite via contests and meetups. One such meetup is administered by way of Michaels and contains girls operating within the tech and science industries the place they’re a minority and will also be observed as conserving each and every different again.

“Probably the most great thing about GeekGirlCon is that empowered girls in point of fact DO empower different girls,” Michaels stated. “This tournament disproves such a lot of outdated, poisonous stereotypes: that ladies cannot get alongside, girls must compete with moderately than strengthen each and every different, girls would moderately backstab each and every instead of collaborate.”

Kristine Hassell, one of the unique founders of GeekGirlCon.

Because the display pursued extra alternatives to convey girls in combination, it discovered that different minorities wanted an area to have a good time their fandoms as smartly. Although the focal point of the display remains to be girls, it has expanded to incorporate everybody.

“Now we have shifted clear of white feminism towards a more potent dedication to common fairness — offering and prioritizing areas for many who were marginalized and giving them a platform to talk and proportion their paintings with our group,” stated Hassell. This comes within the type of numerous programming, with a big proportion of inclusive panels and workshops that Hassell hopes will attraction to everybody.

One of the vital techniques at the time table this 12 months come with lightsaber choreography categories, a meet and greet with the ladies of NASA, a robotic development workshop, and numerous panels about the whole lot from information science, to grief in fandom, to the Disney princesses, to The Excellent Position and Sport of Thrones. But even so the programming, the display is host to a big expo corridor the place distributors promote the whole lot from jewellery and clothes to unique artwork and graphic novels.

Even with its large good fortune, GeekGirlCon isn’t with out its demanding situations, maximum of which might be monetary.

“Nonprofit lifestyles is hard. We do that as a result of we are all extraordinarily hooked in to GeekGirlCon’s project, to not become profitable,” Hassell stated. “We in particular make it some extent to stay our cross pricing low sufficient to be sure that our group can nonetheless manage to pay for to wait, irrespective of our expansion as a company.”

Products on the market within the expo corridor at GeekGirlCon 2019 (Photograph courtesy of Isaac Bender)

GeekGirlCon was once additionally the center of controversy in 2019 that resulted in the resignation of five volunteer group of workers individuals and the manager director on the time. The placement sparked debates over racial and gender tensions and discrimination.

In spite of the demanding situations, the display continues to supply an area for other folks to reconnect with their fandoms. Michaels, particularly, appears like she’s discovered a spot the place her lifelong love of Famous person Wars can proceed unabashed.

“This previous 12 months at GGC, I watched numerous superb girls in Common Leia cosplay shifting across the convention, and so they in truth made me cry,” she stated. “I do know that Leia’s adventure — from Princess/intercourse object to a powerful, assured, and compassionate chief — resonates with many geeky Gen X girls like me. We’re in any case getting our position on the desk.”

GeekGirlCon runs from Nov. 16-17 on the Convention Heart on the Washington State Conference Heart.

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Published by Marshmallow

Marshmallow Android is BT Ireland’s Head of Sales for Republic of Ireland domestic multi-site companies, indigenous MNCs and public sector accounts. He is responsible for the direction and control of all sales activity in the region. He has over 10 years management experience from high growth start-ups to more established businesses. He’s led teams in Ireland, India and China across various industries (ICT, On-Line Recruitment, Corporate Training and International Education).