Girl Geek X

Girl Geek X

Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner #1: Sponsored by Google

Girl Geek Dinners are kicking off Thursday, January 31st, 2008 at Google headquarters in Mountain View, CA. Join us as our panel and the audience discuss ways to build credibility and reputation in technology and business, from leveraging a personal blog to managing social networks effectively, both online and offline. Event is FREE for all girl geeks, and each girl geek can bring one guy geek. RSVP required.
Featured Speakers:
Irene Au, Director of User Experience, Google
Rashmi Sinha, CEO, SlideShare
Leah Culver, Lead Developer & Co-Founder, Pownce
Sumaya Kazi, Entrepreneur & Social Media Manager, Sun Microsystems
Katherine Barr (moderator), Partner, Mohr Davidow Ventures

Opening Speaker from Google:
Ellen Spertus, Research Scientist, Google

Event Curator:
Angie Chang, Co-Founder, Women 2.0

» Please register you and your guest here

Thursday, January 31, 2008
Time: 6:00pm – 9:30pm

Google, Charlie’s Cafe,
Building 40

1600 Amphitheatre Pwky,
Mountain View, CA

Speaker Bios:

Irene Au is dedicated to raising the strategic value of design and user research within software companies through better methods and practices, processes, leadership, and quality. She is Director of User Experience at Google, where her team is responsible for design and user research for Google’s products worldwide. Prior to Google, she spent eight years at Yahoo! where she was Vice President of User Experience and Design. At Yahoo!, Irene established the interaction design and user research practice, and led product and platform design efforts worldwide. Irene also headed up the Product Practices team which coached teams on Agile development practices and developed product operations programs to help business units deliver on corporate strategy. Irene holds an M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction through the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, birthplace of the first popular graphical Web browser, NCSA Mosaic.
Rashmi Sinha is a Designer and Entrepreneur. She is Co-founder and CEO of SlideShare, a website for document sharing for work and play. Rashmi was doing research in Human Computer Interaction at UC Berkeley, when she decided she preferred working on “real” projects. She started a user experience consultancy called Uzanto, helping companies like eBay, AAA and Blue Shield with the usability of their software. Rashmi blogs about social web at For her next career, she wants to write a book about strange things people do on social websites. Rashmi has a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Brown University.
Leah Culver is Co-founder and Lead Developer of Pownce, a social messaging application. Leah created the site and works on all aspects of the website development, including database design, user experience, scaling, and APIs. As a contributor to OAuth and supporter of various social network portability tools, she is considered a leader in open web practices. Leah writes a popular blog about web programming and her experiences in the Bay Area at Leah received her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota in 2006 and enjoys crossword puzzles and spending time with friends.
Sumaya Kazi is a Social Media Manager in Sun Microsystem‘s Global Communications Group. She joined Sun in July of 2005 and has had positions in Executive Communications, Worldwide Operations and International Public Relations. In addition to her full-time position at Sun Microsystems, Sumaya serves as the Executive Director and Founder of, a media publishing company that distributes weekly e-magazines for young, driven and forward-thinking professionals in over 100 countries. Her entrepreneurial work has won her numerous accolades including recognition by BusinessWeek Magazine as one of America’s Top 10 Entrepreneurs Under 25, CNN as a ‘Young Person Who Rocks’, and by ColorLines Magazine as an ‘Innovator to Watch in 2008’. Sumaya graduated from the University of California-Berkeley in Marketing and Strategic Planning.
Katherine Barr is a member of the investment team at Mohr Davidow Ventures focused on Internet-enabled companies. Prior to MDV, she was a Senior Consultant at Vantage Partners (spin-off of the Harvard Negotiation Project) helping high tech clients such as IBM, Cisco and HP to better negotiate and manage their critical business relationships. Before Vantage, she worked as a Product Development Manager at HSA, an education technology startup in Boston. Katherine teaches a yearly Professional Education Negotiation program for the School of Engineering at Stanford. During her graduate studies at Stanford, she was a research and teaching assistant for the US-Asia Technology Management Center in the Dept. of Electrical Engineering. Katherine received her B.A. from McGill University, and completed M.A. and M.S. core curriculum in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University.
Ellen Spertus is an associate professor of computer science at Mills College and a research scientist at Google. She received her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in computer science from MIT and has worked at Microsoft Research and The University of Washington. Since 1990, she has investigated and advocated around girls’ and women’s underrepresentation in computer science. She has done research in computer architecture, information retrieval, and online communities. In 2001, she was named Sexiest Geek Alive. She and her work have been written about in The New York Times, Wired, and The Weekly World News.

4 Responses to “Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner #1: Sponsored by Google”

  1. rachel perkins Says:

    i’m pretty disappointed in the description of the goal of this event:

    “Join us as our panel and the audience discuss ways to build credibility and reputation in technology and business, from leveraging a personal blog to managing social networks effectively, both online and offline.”

    what the hell? blogging and social networking? how about, i donno, writing some code, participating in an open source project? designing an integrated circuit? how about doing something actually geeky to build your reputation? how about having more than 1 out of 5 of the speakers at your first event actually be geeks?

    i am disappointed that even your lineup reinforces the mistaken conception that girls can only be geeky if they’re designers or process managers. Leah Culver seems to be the only real geek amongst a pack of suits.



  2. Kragen Sitaker Says:

    It’s a pretty sad commentary on this event that at a company that employs Ellen Spertus and Lori Park, and until recently employed Anna Patterson and Ruchira Datta, the speakers are pretty much all a bunch of managers. And you can’t claim that the problem is that you don’t *know* Ellen Spertus; you have her introducing the speakers!

    At a real geek event, Ellen Spertus wouldn’t be introducing Irene Au; Irene Au would be introducing Ellen Spertus.

    It’s even sadder that the approaches to reputation-building suggested in the event announcement don’t include actually doing geek things — things like writing innovative software, inventing new query languages, publishing academic papers, telling geek jokes, teaching students how to build computers from NAND gates, filing lawsuits to defend the internet from spammers, or appearing onstage in a circuit-board-patterned corset — just to name a few things Ellen Spertus has done which are *far* geekier than anything a pseudorandomly selected main speaker has done.

    Now, don’t get me wrong — I know management is hard, and doing it well is important. But it’s not *geeky*.

    How did the dinner go?

  3. Angie Chang Says:

    Both comments above started with the words “pretty”. Continuing that trend, I am pretty surprised that there is such division and derision over the understanding of what it means to be a girl geek.

    My Firefox browser crashed right before I posted an in-depth reply to the points above, so please contact me at — let’s set up a time to have a quick talk over the phone or coffee in San Francisco.

    I think these points are very valid, and there have been some good discussions on similar topics (geek/chic balance) at the Systers mailing list lately. This all points to the need for these conversations within the girl geek community.

  4. BayGrrl Says:

    What annoys me isn’t who introduced whom at your dinner, but that the invitation, as portrayed above, indicates that each girl geek can bring one guy geek.

    What if one of your girl geeks wanted to bring another GIRL geek? Would that be allowed? Or are your girl geeks limited to bringing a GUY geek guest or NO guest at all?

    This is the 21st century, Angie, not to mention this event was held in the Bay Area which has a “pretty” good reputation of being inclusive. I hope you will reword future Girl Geek Dinner invitations to make it clear that girl geeks are welcome to bring the geek of their choice, and leave gender out of it altogether.