This post is part of The Edmonton Do Gooder Project, a series of profiles on Edmonton folks doing good in creative ways.

1.     What is the good result you are hoping to create?

We felt that tech-related events seemed uneven, gender-wise. We wanted a place for women to come and geek out, and meet other women with similar interests. We wanted to make it ok for women to embrace who they really are. I sometimes wonder, “How many women are out there hiding their geeky tendencies?”

2.     What is your approach for making this happen?

I work with Dana DiTomaso on Girl Geek Dinners here in Edmonton. We put on dinners and other events to encourage geeks to connect. We’ve branched out from the dinners into some non-dinner things, like trivia nights, because the dinner format isn’t for everyone. We have speakers at our events, mostly people of the ‘geeky’ persuasion. For example, we’ve had a paleontologist, a forensic pathologist, and a women’s studies expert. The events usually happen once a month, but we take a break for the summer.

Girl Geek Dinners is actually an international organization. It started in London, England, about six years ago, and now it’s in over 80 countries. There are some rules and guidelines, but it looks slightly different everywhere it’s done. Men are welcome, but only if they’re brought as a guest of a woman. That way, there’s never more than half men at any event.

We do events because they’re fun. It gets people out from behind the computer. The bond you make is person is different. Connecting with people is easier face-to-face.

Girl Geek Dinners is unique, and has been a long time coming. Women need a place to go and be geeky and have that accepted. It’s needed. When we started, we just told friends, and they told their friends. It grew through word of mouth, including social media.

3.     What makes this issue/area the best fit for you personally?

I feel very strongly that people shouldn’t hide who they are. It’s not ‘lesser’ to be a geeky girl. I’ve always been a geek myself, and have never had a problem expressing that, but I’ve known a lot of people who did.

I also really like pushing people out of their comfort zones, and being pushed a little myself. It helps that I was in on social media from the very start, and that I’ve always wanted to get out and talk to people, and meet people.

4.     How will you know if you’re making progress?

I know it’s working when I see new people attending and making connections. I don’t believe this kind of thing needs hard measurement. But we can see success through increased inquiries, and informal feedback. We want to be engaging with people, we want to see new people coming out. It also feels like success when tickets sell out, and when people are sad if they can’t get tickets.

5.     What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

I know we’ve empowered some people who wouldn’t otherwise have been open about their geekiness. We’ve promoted geek culture in our city, and provided some amazing education via our speakers. We’ve helped create new friendships and connections.

I also know that my work on Girl Geek Dinners has dropped off a little lately. I haven’t done as good a job organizing this year as last year. The lesson for me is that I need better time management. We have to get more done in advance to avoid last-minute scrambling and poor quality.

For future plans, we definitely want to continue to bring in interesting and diverse speakers. We’d like to grow the idea of ‘Ladies’ Night’ at Wizard’s Comics. We’ve been working with Brandon Schatz on that, and have done it once as a test. We’d like to continue with that – maybe make it bigger, with more people.