“She’s Geeky” And Proud Of It!

When is a slur NOT a gaffe? When it’s self-ascribed…I easily self-identify with the geek chic stereotype. In school days I was voted ‘most studious’ but never studied. ‘Outstanding senior’ but never wanted to ‘stand out.’

So when I saw this invitation to participate in an UnConference called “She’s Geeky” coming up October 22-23 at the Computer Museum, it didn’t phase me in the least. Much like this cool WebTrends map, or my article on Internet People, you don’t think you’re ‘geeky’ until you realize you understand these various references.

She’s Geeky is a project of PlanetWork, offering an agenda-free, supportive, intellectual haven for girls and women who embrace technology as a catalyst for world changing. For me? These friendly, collaborative environs will be nirvana.

Imagine being around intelligent people with critical thinking skills in a safe harbor of opportunity and engagement on She’s Geeky topics all over the board. Venture capital. Open Source. Web 2.0 Tools & Technology. Entrepreneurial Visions. Gaming. Mobilization of media. Cause-marketing. All kinds of innovation and education colliding to further the digital dialogue in meaningful ways.

I thrive on the ‘what ifs’ and ‘we cans’ rising to the top before anyone squashes dreamscapes that may not be fully crystallized. To me, that’s the most productive environment…Because that’s where thought leaders emerge. Outrageous ideas and exchange of skill sets need to be fully transparent and encouraged sans guarded gamesmanship.

THAT is why She’s Geeky is so alluring to me personally.

Much like my recent experience at Women Leaders for the World, I find the BEST ideas and conversations flourish in safe, intimate environs of trust, openness, warmth, and support.

I found this at the Guidewire Leadership Forum last year too, where heavy hitter CEOs and wünderkind ditched the veils and dropped the defenses to have poignant conversations that mattered.

Chris Shipley did a fabulous job at Guidewire last December by creating a small, workable retreat from the chaos of startup mania and funding fandangos to shuffle tables and enable parity so that we could all contribute to the conversation without labels pasted to our foreheads. Refreshing!

She’s Geeky holds that same promise, with an added perk…it’s all “Geek Girls” who share the commonality of technology-focused disciplines, tipping expectations upside down and shrugging off stereotypes to be fully present in life, pursuing their own passion and spirit.

As one who apparently doesn’t “look the part” I’ve always straddled the line of culture clash dangling on the periphery of ‘stuffing knowledge’ to keep from intimidating…When I used to work in ad agencies, I recall guarding my words like a steely-edged blade.

All too often, vision and innovation was self-reined due to competitive environs and ruthless behavior, with tongues curbed due to ideas being shot-down, sidetracked, or shanghaied for profit, usually at my own expense.

As I look back on those days, it seems they were training us all to be warriors, and I was more like Ferdinand the Bull. I just wanted to sniff flowers and do the right thing, and leave the blood-letting battlefields of insider politics to spar on their own as I grazed safely outside the ring.

Needless to say, I left traditional ad agencies early on to form my own virtual teams and call my own shots, as life’s too short to waste mindshare on power plays and gamesmanship.

For the next 25 years, I scurried in an out of agencies like an idea hamster (or “hired gun” as they’d call me, though that sounds less peaceful to my ears). I’d do a ‘brain dump’ of creative concepts, leave them on the table, and go my merry way unscathed by the barbarism of brutal corporate politics.

She’s Geeky seems like it will be a collective of people like me who just want to ‘cut to the chase’ sans BULL, so to speak, and let Ferdinand be Ferdinand without a makeover as a severe, suit-wearing, taskmaster clone of a man.

And yes, that ‘man’ myth is a stereotype too, folks. Duly acknowledged.

Remember, media uses stereotypes as short form typecasting to convey a thought or idea in a finger snap blip. Geeks. Freaks. Brains. Nerds. Jocks. Shades of high school monikers run amok in prime time tempo to tell the story in a word.

In fact, I’m excited about leading Shaping Youth’s workshop deconstructing stereotypes like this with teens next month at the national Girls For A Change event…

Kids are classic for pre-judging peers in cliques and tribes akin to a really lousy rendition of Survivor.

Kids can be ‘voted off the island’ just by how they look, what they say, or vocabulary that’s more than monosyllabic. One of the first things I ask the teens is “who do you think I was in high school?” And let the games begin.

Just as Malcolm Gladwell speaks of the merits of rapid cognition in his book “Blink,” we see that people also use ‘snap’ to stereotypes and pigeonhole people from the get-go…

She’s Geeky removes all that and levels the playing field as if to say,

“I don’t care who you are, or what you look like, or where you came from…Let’s talk about technology development and civilization, finding new and useful ways to merge the two into a better planet.

Join me?

I checked the box “I’m there” and committed fully, even though I’m not a big sponsor like Google, Plaxo, NTEN (the Nonprofit Technology Network) a media maven like DevChix, LinuxChix, a cool consultancy like Citizen Agency or Purple Tornado or an activist techno pro like MobileActive.

I just consider myself a self-taught technical neophyte, with something to say!

I’m not even geeky enough to add my name to the wiki of ‘who’s coming’…so it’s not like you need to ‘code’ or anything. Here’s how to sign in as a ‘maybe’ or register as a definite. Here’s a peek at who’s coming already.

And if any of you are potential sponsors for She’s Geeky, be sure to get in on the (Un)Conference early, to maximize your coverage. Come to think of it…I should ask if they have a nonprofit rate!

Worthy indeed. See you there, ladies…I’ll ping my GWLN colleagues pronto and spread the word globally to act locally. Yep. I’m geeky. And proud of it.

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