Events Archives - Geek Girl Rising

Category Archives: Events

Women in Tech Take on Silicon Valley’s “Bro” Culture

Geek Girl panel at Book Passage San Francisco, from L to R: Samantha Walravens (moderator), Samara Trilling, Teresa Ibarra, Aparna Pujar, Maci Peterson

You would never have guessed that Silicon Valley is a land of “brogrammers” and “boy geniuses” last night at Book Passage in San Francisco. Four pioneering women in tech– Samara Trilling, a software engineer at Google, Teresa Ibarra, 2nd-year computer science student at Harvey Mudd College and software intern at StitchFix, Aparna Pujar, Founder and CEO of Enfavr, and Maci Peterson, Co-founder and CEO or OnSecondThought— joined Geek Girl Rising co-author Samantha Walravens to discuss strategies for succeeding as a woman in tech and ways to inspire the next generation of women and girls to join the digital revolution.

Samara Trilling, who entered Columbia University as a Political Science major and graduated with a Computer Science degree, said that young women discount computer science and engineering as a potential field of study because they think it’s too hard or that they won’t like it.

“People (often girls) think that if they don’t get something immediately, computer science is not for them, and they’re not cut out for it,” Trilling explained. “This is the biggest misconception in the tech world. I loved the recent post by Amy Nguyen called “I need more terrible female engineers.”  The only question you should have to ask yourself when deciding if you belong in CS is, “Do I like it?” If you really do, then you belong here.”

Teresa Ibarra and Samantha Walravens

Teresa Ibarra explains the importance of having people “who look like you” in your network to serve as role models because, as the saying goes, “you can’t be what you can’t see.”

“It’s important for young women of color to see that tech is a career that’s possible for people that look like them,” Ibarra explains. “One of my biggest deterrents to learning how to program was that I thought programming was reserved for white men, and not for ‘people like me.’ I had never met another Filipina in tech until about two weeks ago. Not only was she also a Bay Area native, but also planned to start her own company as a technical founder. After seeing her go for it, I’ve decided to focus my time on preparing to become a founder.”

Aparna Pujar, who has worked in various executive roles at Yahoo! and eBay and has recently launched her own tech company, Enfavr, encouraged women to speak up and ask for what they want, be it a promotion at work or funding for their startup. She credits a few key mentors and sponsors in her career for believing in her and pulling her up to senior positions.  She also credits her time at the Women’s Startup Lab (WSL), an accelerator program for female founders, with providing her a network of other entrepreneurs, mentors and investors who have helped her navigate the startup world.

“I found within my (WSL) cohort a group of friends whom I can trust,” said Pujar. “I can go to them when I’m struggling with a problem, which is so important because being a founder and CEO is a very lonely role. Having this group of friends who can guide you and help you navigate the issues is very, very helpful.”

A panel of “geek girls rising” speak to a packed audience on May 31 in San Francisco.

Maci Peterson received a round of applause when she announced that she was the 14th black women to date to have raised over $1 million dollars in funding. “As a black woman founder, there aren’t that many investors who look like me,” she explained. “The ones who funded me were minority or women who get what I am doing.”  Peterson is closing a $1.2 million seed round and is licensing her patented messaging delay/recall technology to wireless carriers and social media platforms the world over.

For more advice and stories from women on the front lines of the digital revolution, buy Geek Girl Rising: Inside the Sisterhood Shaking Up Tech today.

Geek Girl Rising Hits The Apollo & WOW Festival This Sunday!

Our children and their insatiable appetite for all things tech sparked some of the initial ideas for Geek Girl Rising. Heather has tween twins: a boy and girl.  Sam has four children: two teenaged boys, a teen girl and another daughter in elementary school.

Over the years we worked on this project together, we lamented the lack of computer science education in our suburban school districts on opposite coasts and the dearth of after school classes and camps that offered programming.  So much has changed in five years — but there is much still work to be done to reach ALL children and to expose them to the tech skills they’ll need for 21st century careers.

The search for new role models to inspire our girls and boys to think of themselves as the builders and inventors of the future drove us early on in our reporting process. We learned about the efforts inside public schools, by inventors and entrepreneurs and by non-profit organizations to smash stereotypes about coding and engineering and to ignite kids’ and especially, girls’ imaginations around their potential to be creators and problem solvers.
This is one of the reasons we spent years following the trajectory of Debbie Sterling’s company, GoldieBlox, and why she figures so prominently in the book.

So it is a true privilege to be able to continue the conversation and to share the knowledge we gleaned from leaders who are on the front lines advocating for gender equality in tech — but also those fighting to close the digital divide in underserved communities. We are thrilled to take part in the WOW Festival THIS Sunday, May 7th.  The Women of the World Festival is a FREE event at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem celebrating female thought leaders, creators and performers.  We’re proud to lead the discussion called Digital Dames: The Future of Women and Girls in Tech.

Speakers include tech education advocate and Geek Girl Aruna Prasad; Sonya Magett, founder of Code and Content Academy, a non-profit that provides free training in computer science to youth in undeserved communities; Alex Tosti, co-founder of the e-textiles crafting company, Blink Blink; and Opeyemi Olukemi, senior director, Interactive at the Tribeca Film Institute.  Please join us at 6PM for a conversation and Q&A.

We hope to see you!! We’ll be signing books at 4PM, too!



Geek Girl Rising Debuts at SXSW ’17

Austin, Texas was hopping this week for SXSW (South by Southwest), the annual film, music and tech conference that draws attendees from around the world. Geek Girl Rising was there, on the ground, soaking up live music, eating shrimp and grits, and “soft” launching our upcoming book, Geek Girl Rising, which comes out on May 23. It was exhilarating to read from our book for the first time in front of an enthusiastic crowd! One audience member told us that he got teary-eyed when we heard about the many amazing opportunities available for women and girls in the technology world today and how excited he was to introduce his two young daughters to the host of strong female role models featured in our book. The day before our talk, Shelley Zalis and The Girls’ Lounge hosted a Geek Girl Rising panel in which Shelley, entrepreneurs Maci Peterson, Jill Richmond and Sarah Kunst joined angel investor Adam Quinton to discuss the funding crunch for female startup founders and how more women can help by becoming angel investors. Thanks you for the opportunity to share our book and our mission!  You can pre-order Geek Girl Rising today.

Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence Take Centerstage at Women’s Pitch Contest


From self-driving wheelchairs to digital personalized help for addicts to predictive data analysis for doctors to virtual travel agents, the fourth annual Women Startup Challenge showcased women venturing into emerging areas of technology.  The competition, hosted by Google in New York City, offered a $50,000 prize courtesy of the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund. The night drew more than 200 spectators, including investors, founders and techies, who watched the ten dynamic finalists pitch their cutting edge companies.

“We’ve received many hundreds of submissions from female entrepreneurs whose product ideas are often brilliant and disruptive, and a few that could even be the ‘next big thing.’ We’re just scratching the surface of  the pent-up talent, as you see from the caliber of today’s winners,” said Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech, the organization that runs the Challenge.

Didimo of Clayton, California took home the grand prize.  It’s a tool that transforms the image from a single photo into a 3D virtual character that can speak, move and represent a user in a 3D world. Runners up were Spirit AI and Addicaid, both located in New York.  Each will receive $10,000 in legal services from Paul Hastings LLP.  Kudos!