Southern California Public Radio hosted Girl Geek Dinners last Thursday to help professional women and female students come together for an evening discussion of how big data is used in politics and government.

Christina Lu was the moderator for the panel: Alex Schaffer, Ed Honowitz, Maya Hutchinson, and Jan Perry for the L.A. Girl Geek Dinners at the Crawford Family Forum at KPCC on Thursday, February 19, 2015. The panel discussed big data in politics and government and the role women and girls interested in STEM could play in the big data movement. (Erica Hong/Courier)




Girl Geek Dinners was founded by Sarah Blow in London, England in 2005, and has been expanding to popular cities all over the world such as Paris, New York City, Dubai, and Los Angeles. The goal of Girl Geek Dinners is to provide a forum for women, and their male guests, of all different backgrounds and careers to learn, communicate, and network in a job field that is still mostly male dominated: technology.

“We try to get women to participate and host events that can further professional careers and also develop personal friendships,” said Sophia Viklund, the Founder and Head of Strategic Relations for backCODE. “We want to invite and hear from everyone, women and men. We are inclusive.”

With Girl Geek Dinners’ growing popularity, attendees were of a broad and mixed crowd. California Institute of Technology students, Aashrita Mangu, electrical engineering major, and Alicia Lanz, physics major, were both present as invited guests.

“The topic of women in science is relevant for both of us because we are both one of them,” said Lanz. “I’m interested in networking and seeing what other people are doing with science and technology. I don’t have a lot of contacts outside Caltech, especially with my narrow field, so it helps broaden my horizons.”

However, technology and science are not bound to specific careers. As both technology and science expands into a variety of careers, it’s crucial for women to receive the proper education so they may continue to grow into their profession.

“It’s essential to show young people what’s out there, technologically, and help them get their foot in in the job market,” said Jan Perry, the general manager of the Economic and Workforce Development Department for the city of Los Angeles. “It’s also helpful for ‘incumbent workers’, who are adults who had been trained in one career and, for whatever reason, may have to join a different career, to be properly introduced and educated to these new technological advancements.”

Girl Geek Dinners’ growing community proves that these forums encourage women to empower one another while simultaneously learning and teaching others.

“The most important thing for us is human relationships,” said Viklund. “We welcome everybody to join us.”

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