Girl Geek Scotland, a part of the global Girl Geek Dinner network, is a community that provides fantastic networking, mentoring and learning opportunities for women looking to get ahead in STEM related and creative industries. 

Girl Geek Scotland, is a Scottish chapter of the Girl Geek Dinners network, founded in 2005. They aim to challenge (gender) stereotypes and to forge and nurture contacts between individuals working in various fields including technology, digital media, business and creativity. They have been developing world-class educational and networking experiences for women in Digital Technologies since 2008. Also known as: dinners.

GGS sets up networking events, where high-profile guests mingle with the ambitious ladies (and gentlemen) eager to develop and grow their networks, as well as get an insight into the industry of their interest. First such event in Scotland was a dinner held in Dundee, in 2009. Since then GGS expanded to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

To get a sense of what the networking ladies are doing, here are some of the aims of Girl Geek Scotland:

  • “To engage and develop a network of women, who are able to support each other at entry-level, and throughout their careers, working at the intersection between creativity, computing and enterprise”.
  • “To become a world-leader in providing learning opportunities for women in this sector through short-courses, hackathons, mentoring, and panel events.”
  • “To support the development of a thriving technology sector, and a flourishing start-up scene, making a positive contribution to Scotlands economy.”

 

Morna Simpson, a Founder and a Programme Director at GGS, is essentially responsible for everything that goes on in her organisation. She sets the direction for Girl Geek Scotland, explores funding opportunities, and empowers volunteers to design and hold events that they are passionate about, and that resonate with the GGS community. In her own words:

Unlike other organisations GGS runs an integrated programme of events that is the equivalent of an MSc in Technology and Enterprise. Our high quality learning materials and resources have Scotland wide impact.

 

Morna singlehandedly grew GGS from start to where it is now. An organisation that hosts sell-out events, with a 26 thousand people readership and if that’s not impressive enough: she “directly affected EU research and policy development through public engagement at national and international events”.

Among the notable events hosted and coordinated by GGS, one stands out. In 2010 Girl Geeks Scotland ran the very successful “Silcon Valley Speaker Series” which paired speakers from our own community with very high profile women from Silicon Valley. The same year they raised £85,000 to run “Women In Enterprise, Workshops” which invited 45 women to participate in weekend long, immersive workshops to develop a initial business plan and introduce them to the funding pipeline. By the end of the 3rd workshop 17 women had registered their business.

Business breakfasts, skills workshops, dinners, fundraisers…it seems these ambitious ladies beautifully combine serious networking events with simply having a good time, sharing experiences and enjoying themselves.

The good work GGS is putting in did not go unnoticed by Nicola Sturgeon: “A career in digital technology and industries is something women have traditionally been less likely to pursue than their male peers. Organisations like Girl Geek Scotland not only help Scotland in its ambition to create more women entrepreneurs, but they also allow women to discover the opportunities and benefits that a career in technology can bring. I admire and support the work of Girl Geek Scotland to help address the gender imbalance within the sector’s workforce, which is a vital part of our own ambition and efforts to develop a world class digital economy in Scotland.”

The most recent initiative that GGS have taken on is to help promote greater use of female role models and mentors in schools. The motivation for such initiative arose after the new research found that women only account for 18 per cent of those in digital technology roles in Scotland, with the gender gap in the talent pipeline starting at school. The project will be delivered by Girl Geek Scotland on behalf of Skills Development Scotland and partners in the Digital Technology Skills Group.

In regards to this Morna Simpson says:

There are many role model initiatives already doing great work in Scotland and the aim of this project is to provide the basis for further widening provision and support.

“We want to hear from as many organisations as possible in response to our surveys so that we can create a full map of activities and encourage greater use of role models and mentors across Scotland.”

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