Ottawa’s Girl Geek Dinners: Uniting women with a passion for technology

Mel Gallant (blog | Twitter) is a social media junkie using the Interweb to distract her from an incurable addiction to chocolate. A public relations program manager for an Ottawa-based high tech firm, Mel is an avid reader and a somewhat okay knitter. As co-founder of the Girl Geek Dinners Ottawa chapter, Mel loves sharing her passion for technology and gadgetry with others.

There are tons of networking events to be had in Ottawa, particularly of the social media and technology vein. There are also a lot of technology savvy women in this city with a tremendous amount of expertise and geeky smarts to share. In 2009, Kelly Rusk, Veronica Giggey and myself got to thinking that the city needed a channel to support the sharing of that tech knowledge and expertise between women, and we thought the Girl Geek Dinner (GGD) formula the best approach.

Girl Geek Dinner Ottawa co-founders (l to r): Kelly Rusk, Veronica Giggey and Melany Gallant. Photo courtesy of LeMien.ca

Girl Geek Dinners were founded in 1996 in London, England by Sarah Blow – a geeky girl tired of being one of the only females attending technology events in her fair city. Sarah decided to do something about it, organizing the first girl geek dinner with the goal to “make technology accessible and interesting to all age groups and all people, particularly women.”

The idea caught on and soon Girl Geek Dinners started popping up across the UK and Europe. There are now GGD chapters in 77 cities around the globe, including several cities across Canada (check out http://girlgeekdinners.com to see a full list of participating cities).

The GGD Ottawa chapter (#GGDOttawa) meets on a monthly basis to network, learn and share ideas about technology and related topics. These informal, networking events are typically held in a restaurant with a guest speaker leading a conversation on a particular topic or theme. Our next event is on January 26th, and will feature a panel discussion on leadership with three female business leaders representing both the public and private sector. These women are immersed in technology and we anticipate a lively discussion about their career journey and leadership experience.

One of my favourite elements to the GGD formula is that it is an informal networking event. With each event we organize, Kelly, Veronica and myself see new and returning members, which means the conversation never stales. By the way, men are more than welcome to attend a GGD event – they simply need to be invited by a women to ensure there is no more than a 50:50 gender split at each event.

If you have a passion for technology, and GGD Ottawa sounds like something you’d be interested in, check out our website for more information about our meetups!

Thanks for the post Mel!