Six years ago, GeekGirlCon was founded on the belief that anyone can be a geek and that geek spaces can and should be inclusive, welcoming, and accessible to all. Our convention—which this year had over 11,000 attendees—seeks to teach, appreciate, and inspire geeks from all walks of life. We celebrate diversity because we each have unique experiences that are worth sharing. When we say “Every Geek, Everybody,” we absolutely mean it.
GeekGirlCon is still here. We will continue to work toward a better future for women in STEAM fields, games, comics, and more. We will keep carving out and embracing spaces for us to do what we love. Because we believe that everybody deserves a place where they can fearlessly and fiercely be themselves.
If you would like to back our efforts, you can donate to or volunteer with GeekGirlCon. You can also show your support for some of our partner organizations. Or, if you are currently unable to donate or volunteer, there is still a lot that you can do. Learn. Love. Grow. Share. Make time for self-care–your feelings are valid. Inspire others with your optimism. Continue to be kind, empathetic, and compassionate to each other.
We’re here for you and invite you to connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Early next week, we’ll be posting some of your thoughts. What are you doing to foster community? Who are some women in STEAM you would love to see blog posts about here? What media are you turning to for inspiration right now (this letter from Leslie Knope is helping me immensely)? Share your favorite quote about empowerment. Community and conversation are key at this juncture, and we’re happy to help foster them in every way that we can.
Thank you for being part of our community and allowing us to be part of yours.
One of the many things that makes GeekGirlCon so unique is that our organization is made up of 100% volunteers. From the Agents at our convention to our Directors, everyone who puts on the event for 8,500+ attendees does it for the mission:
To celebrate and honor the legacy of women contributing to science and technology; comics, arts, and literature; and game play and game design by connecting geeky women worldwide and creating community to foster continued growth of women in geek culture through events.
It is a lofty and expansive (and slightly wordy) goal, but it is the commonality that brings a variety of geeks to GeekGirlCon. We possess a unique combination of skills, personalities, life experiences, fandoms, and Titratathon wins between us. It makes the whole experience dynamic for attendees year after year because we are never the same GeekGirlCon.
No matter the holidays one does or doesn’t celebrate, I think we can all agree: partaking in traditions with loved ones is awesome. And when said traditions include geeky elements, even better. This month, the GeekGirlCon staff was asked to share some of their favorite customs that feature nerdy flair.
Gaming Events Coordinator Andy Munich answered the question with gusto for one of the most imaginative nights of the year, “I’ve been known to run a Halloween themed RPG for friends while they take turns answering the door for trick-or-treaters. This year’s was based on the 1987 masterpiece Monster Squad.”
Adrienne Roehrich, the Manager of Editorial Services and Vice President of the Board, described traditions she’s enjoyed during childhood and as an adult. “The geeky family tradition that I had as a child was playing a game or doing a puzzle on New Year’s Eve. My dad would buy a special 1000 piece puzzle or we’d get a new board game and we’d open it up and play for the first time on New Year’s Eve. We’d head to bed after midnight and spend some time on the puzzles the next day and for a couple weekends until it was finished. Only one board game lasted longer than one night – the year my sister got Risk for Christmas. That game went on forever.
“As an adult, I continued the tradition with my spouse and children. For awhile, our game night friends came over on New Year’s Eve and we’d play a board game or two and video games as well. Since moving to Seattle a few years ago, it has just been my spouse and children and I playing our New Year’s Eve board and video games.”
Sheila Sadeghi, Director of Marketing, has created a great tradition of her own as well. “Valve always does a holiday update for Team Fortress 2, so I gear up all my favorite characters in warm outfits and “festive” weapons. That way, I can really feel the holiday cheer coursing through my veins as I sip eggnog and blow up tiny cowards on my screen.”
Sylvia Monreal, GeekGirlCon’s Hospitality and Transportation Manager, described an autumn scene she and her pals began a few years back. “While I was in college, my friends and I would buy a new video game on the night before Thanksgiving and try to beat it before the the end of the weekend. This year, we screened the Star Wars movies while cooking Thanksgiving dinner for our friends, then played Super Smash for dessert.”
Special Event Manager Maddy VonHoff describes how her father helps make this time of year extra special (and geeky). “My dad loves Christmas, so much so that he has two Christmas trees. There’s a normal Christmas tree upstairs with your standard ornaments. But the other tree downstairs celebrates our shared geek genes. This tree is surrounded by Captain America wall decals and comic books, and is decorated with companion cube lights and avengers ornaments. Every year Gandalf brings us one present and puts it under the Geek Christmas tree. It could be a board game, a Walking Dead figurine, a comic book, etc. Every year I wonder what Gandalf and Santa Claus talk about when they meet up at our house on Christmas Eve. This year I’m hoping Gandalf forgets about a gift and takes me on an adventure instead!”
As a Copy Writer for GeekGirlCon, I revel in just about any epic story, and the cold of the winter solstice creates the perfect time to catch a newly released movie. This combo has led to me seeing films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy in theatres with my friends and family over the past few years. Of course, my favorite holiday remains Halloween, when I can play dress up to express my love of comic books and animated films. In recent years, I’ve gone as Princess Mononoke, and have been part of group costumes from Alice in Wonderland, The Cat in the Hat, and Josie and the Pussycats.
Do you have any geeky holiday traditions? Do you plan to start any this year?
This post is brought to you by GeekGirlCon Twitter Administrator and Board President Kristine Hassell.
As we work toward our convention in October (Do you have your passes yet? Seriously? Buy them already!), I thought I’d address some assumptions about GeekGirlCon, who we are, and what we do. As a proud staffer with GeekGirlCon, I am familiar with our mission statement:
We celebrate and honor the legacy of women that contribute to science and tech; video games and comics; and arts and literature. We fulfill this mission by connecting geeky women worldwide and nurturing a community that fosters the growth of women in geek culture through year-round events.
To me, it seems evident from reading this that anyone who supports geeky women would be welcome, but what does this really mean? So I decided to pose the question, “Based on what you know, who do you think that GeekGirlCon is for?” to some folks I know, and some of the replies are interesting.
“Pretty much what it says on the label. It’s primarily for girls and women of the geekier persuasions, but it’s also open to anyone who’d like to learn and see more about the perspectives/issues on their side of things.” – Aaron Blalack, convention attendee and hip-hop artist
“GeekGirlCon is for the thinking geek. I’ve always found the atmosphere and the vibe of GeekGirlCon to be a bit more academic than most other gaming conventions I attend. The panelists and the special guests arrive with the intention to talk about important issues. You are expected to think, you are expected to communicate well, and you can expect the conversations to be thoughtful and the questions challenging. Attendees should go to GeekGirlCon expecting to explore their favourite element of nerdy culture on a more thoughtful level.” – Joanna Gaskell, writer and producer of Standard Action
“GeekGirlCon to me is a sort of geeky safe harbor. A place where women can meet one another and share common enthusiasm about geeky passions without being subjected to the more negative side of our beloved culture such as sexism and voyeurism. A happy place to feel warm and fuzzy.” – Nick Hahn, Community Outreach Event Coordinator for Ablegamers
“I think GeekGirlCon is for everyone. It doesn’t exclude men in the same way that Comic-Con focuses on Comics but doesn’t exclude people who like genre prose, video games or sci-fi television. It invites you to a gathering that celebrates women who, sadly, don’t always get the recognition they should elsewhere. And it has plenty of panels and activities that aren’t gender specific.” – Alan Kistler, author/actor and comic book historian
“If you believe GeekGirlCon is a place for all geeks, then GeekGirlCon is the place for you. Join the inclusion clique!” – Andy Munich, convention attendee, Special Agent, and RPG specialist
“I think that GeekGirlCon is for anyone who thinks that questions of gender disparity in geek culture are fair ones, and who therefore sees that having a focus on deliberately (re)presenting groups or perspectives that differ from the cultural default of many other events is a reasonable response. When other events (or cultures surrounding them) are, or seem to be, presumptively male, tagging an event “girl” only seems exclusionary in the superficial sense. Really, it’s a geeky and pop cultural event for anyone interested in any other such events, but built from the ground up to rest on the foundation of a more inclusive default.” – The One True B!x, Portland writer and founder emeritus of CSTS
“I am a little disadvantaged, having never been to GeekGirlCon…but I would still have to say, it’s for everyone. Based on the fact that every male Enforcer I am friends with actually looks forward to going to GeekGirlCon and certainly every geek girl I know in the PNW attends. I would say it’s for anyone who is comfortable with a con that is trying create a space where women actually feel comfortable instead of merely accepted.” – Shervyn von Hoerl, nerd dad hoping to raise a geek boy and a geek girl
“Although my knowledge is limited because I’m on the other side of nation and all, I was always under the impression that GeekGirlCon more or less celebrated and emphasized the fact that it’s not just a rare thing to be a girl with sci-fi/fantasy/RPG/console gamer interests. It’s normal… and darn it, it’s cool!!! GeekGirlCon is awesome, and I really must spread the word to a couple newly arrived gamer grrls I met at our weekly game day. I think at least one of them would make a pilgrimage someday :-).” – Michael Hanna, gay gamer rakehellion and Michigan bon vivant
“GeekGirlCon is for people who enjoy geekery, inclusion and happiness.” – Angela Webber, The Doubleclicks
“GeekGirlCon is for people who like smiling and puppies.” – Aubrey Webber, The Doubleclicks*
Now…after reading all of these replies, it’s clear that everyone sees GeekGirlCon a little differently—and that’s sort of the point! GeekGirlCon is for everyone that supports us in our mission and values.
I’ve encountered folks who were convinced they couldn’t come because they think they’re not geeky “enough” or they’re not girls. Nope. All are welcome. All welcome. Go into the Light. There is peace and serenity in the Light. Wait, sorry. I channeled a little Tangina there…but you get my drift. Genuinely, and I’m quoting directly from our values:
“GeekGirlCon embraces all types of people. PERIOD. There is no way to list all the subsets of folks that now or in the future will make up the body of GeekGirlCon. ALL: ages, gender identities, sexual orientations, sexual preferences, sizes, abilities, ethnicities, nationalities, races, creeds, religions, familial statuses, alien species, earth species, education levels, science specializations, operating system preferences, fandoms, etc., are welcome. Anyone supporting women in geeky pursuits is welcome.“
Hey readers! Shubz here with another installment of Ask GGC. We asked our staff how their time with GeekGirlCon made a difference for them in their lives outside of our organization. Here’s what they had to say:
“I’ve started getting back into comics and science, two avenues of geekdom that I enjoyed when I was younger, but fell to the wayside when I discovered RPGs, video games, and anime. I’ve also become more vocal when I find things offensively misogynistic or racist. As a female Filipino-American nerd, it’s important to speak up about these things. Being on staff has stepped up my game on many fronts including how to succinctly convey my thoughts in 140 characters or less when needed without textspeak abbreviations! Grammar nerds FTW!” – Kristine Hassell, Twitter Administrator
Erica striking a pose at GeekGirlCon 2012
“I’ve been an idealist for most of life, and the world has in many ways tried to stop me from believing in the ability to change the world. GeekGirlCon has really proven that through community momentum, we can change the world. When we first started planning for GeekGirlCon ’11, we would’ve been happy if 400 people showed up; but instead we had almost 2,000. And even more for GeekGirlCon ’12. We’ve inspired people, helped build new skills and interests, and fostered women-positive geeky community. We can be the change in the world.” – Erica McGillivray, Director of Marketing
Left to Right: Shubz Blalack, Tammy Vince Cruz, Raye Abellar
“GeekGirlCon changed my life. It opened my eyes, my mind, and best of all, my heart, to an amazing community all working towards a sincere goal. Admittedly, GeekGirlCon consumed me; it consumed my time, my energy, and my life – but it’s all been worth it. I’ve worked with remarkable people, many of which I would consider good friends. Beyond that, the rad folks I’ve had the chance to meet along the way, reinforced that genuine people do exist, and they support what you believe in.
GeekGirlCon pushed me to work my butt off. I’ve produced some of my best pieces for GeekGirlCon. While giving me that challenge, it’s resulted in a rejuvenated design portfolio. I’ve definitely forced myself to learn a lot of better habits when it came to my work – learning communication is vital, especially leading my own team, and overall organization is detrimental to making things run smoothly. I was known as a mute when I was a kid, but helping lead meetings and represent GeekGirlCon helped build my self-confidence, and improve my own public speaking and interaction skills. A lot of these skills I’ve applied to my day job and personal life, and it makes me feel all sorts of awesomely weird – like I’ve definitely stepped full fledge into “grown up” territory. And I’m quite happy with that.
– Tammy Vince Cruz, Manager of Design
Susie and Stephanie cosplaying it up as Hawkgirl and Starbuck, respectively
“Working at GeekGirlCon opened my eyes in so many ways. It opened my eyes to the hundreds of geeky things out there I didn’t even know existed. It opened my eyes to the fantastic community of geeky women and their amazing supporters. And it opened my eyes to the fact that GeekGirlCon is still a needed organization — there are too many people out there who still feel mistreated, misrepresented, and misunderstood. GeekGirlCon staff members bring a range of personalities to the table, which has given me the opportunity to learn and grow in ways I never expected. It has seriously been a gift to be on this staff.” – Susie Rantz, PR Manager
GeekGirlCon is currently looking for enthusiastic and driven individuals to join our staff and continue to make a difference with us. Could that be you? Check out our Open Staff Positions for more information.
It’s the first GeekGirlCon all-hands meeting for the year! Come join GeekGirlCon staff to talk about upcoming initiatives, hear new announcements, and give your thoughts and feedback. Everyone is welcome!
We at GeekGirlCon, a Seattle nonprofit for geeky women, take exception to Ginia Bellafante’s statement that “no woman alive” would be interested in George R. R. Martin’s “boy fiction” and watch HBO’s Game of Thrones. Her generalization of women and our lack of interest in the fantasy genre is uniformed and untrue.
GeekGirlCon is dedicated to fighting the marginalization of girl geeks and the stereotype perpetuated in this review: that fantasy and sci-fi is for boys only and too complex for women unless it has romantic overtones. Please know there are many, many women reading and enjoying the “boy fiction” as is–bloody, gritty, layered, and complex–without need of Sex and the City-style sex and shoe shopping.
If Ms. Bellefante would like to meet smart, accomplished women, who demand fantasy titles in their book clubs, we invite her to Seattle on October 8-9th for the first annual GeekGirlCon.
For Geek Girls everywhere,