Girl Geeking, Not Bra Burning

Last week my eyes were opened to a little world sustained by events called Girl Geek Dinners.

bostongirlgeekAt first, I was intrigued:

Girl? Why, yes.

Geek? On my good days.

Dinner? I eat.

So, I had to go.

The Boston chapter gathered for an evening sponsored by HubSpot and hosted by The Brahmin on Tuesday, December 3rd from 5:30pm-8:30pm EST. In true geek fashion, I arrived on time, or, socially speaking, too early.

Listen, I know we all love to hate networking. But my level of networking averseness extends beyond a phobia of small-talk with strangers. Put me in a room with my closest friends and tell me I have to talk about “what I’m doing right now” or “my interests” and I’m running to the nearest exit.

Which is why I was floored to find myself having actual, unfeigned fun at the Boston Girl Geek Dinner (BGGD). And sure, this may be the point, but lately I’ve attended some events (I won’t name them!) that failed miserably in accomplishing what it is they set out to do.

So why was last week’s BGGD a sold-out hit and why is the organization gaining speed? Well, after speaking to co-organizer Rachel Murray (Green Bee Web Consulting), it appears that it’s BGGD’s fluid (though contained) definition of its target audience and purpose that is making it a growing success.

Events often feel forced because people are told exactly who should attend and what they should be discussing/watching/doing. According to Murray, the target BGGD attendee is, “a woman who wants to interact with other women who love talking about anything from Game of Thrones to where they got their cute sweater.”

Boston and Cambridge are cities filled with new ideas, budding industries and motivated people. “There are networking groups that are focused on tech, those that are involved in startups, those that are tech startup focused, and women’s groups as well,” continued Murray over email. “We’re a bit more niche in that we’re not specifically ‘tech’ nor are we startup-focused, any self-identified female geek is welcome.” In other words, their niche is not having a niche.

I can vouch for this. During my two hours there I met a motley crew of women. One started a freelancing job that very morning. Another had just graduated. While yet others had their hands in multiple start-ups or were CEOs of their own ventures.

Murray put it well when she said, “It’s about bonding over commonalities first. If relationships form from that, then great.”

But all of this leaves me wondering: why does an organization have to be female-only in order to achieve these things? After some thought, I believe the answer may lie less in gender (or feminism) and more in the fact that BGGD has called upon something other than what people “do” to unite them.

“I think it’s important for women to have a safe environment where we can feel no judgment about anything we want to talk about… because it’s really about carving a personal space for us,” reflected Murray.

The “Girl” is what makes it personal; the “Geek” is what made it fun.

Now a global organization that began in London in 2005, Girl Geek Dinners began a Boston chapter in 2008. It started as a series of small dinners planned around Boston and Cambridge then faded away for a bit before picking back up again with an event this past June, sponsored by VMware.

With the help of event platforms such as Eventbrite, Connect and VentureFizz, BGGD has grown organically since June and more companies have reached out to sponsor and host events. A small ticket fee ($5) has been added to promote attendance. All proceeds go to Science Club for Girls, a local organization that helps to educate girls in STEM.

For more information on upcoming events or how to become a sponsor, please visit:


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  1. I’m a fan of Girl Geek Dinners and think that it’s great to create spaces for women who are in nontraditional fields to talk. And, as a point of clarification, I thought you might be interested in knowing that the “bra burning” analogy is actually both a fabricated stereotype and a myth.
    One doesn’t have to identify as a feminist to attend women’s networking events, of course. But I think it’s important to recognize that in the 1970s, there were more barriers toward women entering nontraditional careers than there are today. I am personally grateful to the women who won me the right to vote and to work in tech fields. I would hope that other attendees at GGD would also recognize that we would never have had events like these in 1950.

    • K:
      Thanks very much for your thoughts on this. And I completely agree: women in the workforce today are very lucky to have access to events such as GGD. My reference to bra burning was a nod to the false stereotype- that’s not what actually went on then, and it’s not what goes on now. Thank you for reminding us of the huge progress women have made in the workplace.

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