Women in Geekdom

Today at ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago, I went to a panel called Women in Geekdom. It was excellent, about reaching out to women via libraries.

Here are my notes:

Women in Geekdom

Moderator, Samantha Nelson, from the A. V. Club — talking about Gamers

Tricia Bobeda — Nerdette Podcast – Nerd is not what you love but how much you love it. 50,000 people listen.
All you need to podcast is a computer and a decent microphone.
Interested in librarians podcasting.

Mo Fong – K-12 Education Outreach at Google
The world is changing, and students need access and exposure to learn.
Research: Why women choose computer science: Encouragement and exposure. That’s something librarians do.

Emily Graslie: The Field Museum & The Brain Scoop
Similarities between libraries and museums.

Molly Jane Kremer: Challenger Comics & DoomRocket.comĀ 
Have won the Eisner’s for best retailer. She reviews comics.
Libraries facilitate collaboration.

Samantha Nelson, Moderator: “Gamers love to talk to other Gamers.” Libraries can be a space for that.

Tricia: Kickstarter is a similar model to Public Radio.
Membership can also be about getting together and sharing ideas.

Mo Fong – There is lots of collaboration in Computer Science, and that works well with libraries.

Emily : Libraries and Museums have the advantage of an exciting physical space. The majority of their community building happens online.
You can invite people to come into the physical space.

Molly Jane: People assume comic fans are antisocial — but they connect with fellow enthusiasts. Libraries can foster that sort of community.

Moderator: Geekdom can seem intimidating. A library can help people get that first exposure.

Mo: Finding out what students already love within their communities and adding those: Arduino lights on shoes!
Video: Made with Code campaign madewithcode.com
It has projects kids can do right in the library
Host a Made with Code Party — comes in a box. You’re a facilitator. Minimal cost and equipment.
Only 18% of Computer Science Graduates today are women.
CS First Clubs. Targeted toward middle schoolers. Tied to themes — music art, fashion, games, friends. Clubs we can run.

Tricia: Podcasting is a safe space, like libraries. Not afraid to show themselves as beginners.
If kids can become the teachers, it’s less scary, and it’s empowering.
Get the kids in your community face to face with scientists.

Emily – She has a web series where she continues to ask the amateur questions. Learning together is a unifying thing.
NOT the empty vessel model.
Allowing kids to become an authority is so empowering for them.

Molly Jane: Intimidating when starting out in comics. Libraries are great places to get around that. You just need a kind understanding person to help you figure out what you need to know. Making you feel like you can dive in.

Samantha: A program is only successful if people show up. How do you combat the perceptions as a waste of time?
More brain power used than the game of chess.
How do we make it clear and remove the negative stigmas? How do we explain the social and mental benefits?

Emily: Can go both ways. She hated everything as a teenager — you also need to appeal to the kid.
Associated with the library gives it built-in credibility!
Depends on the age of the kids, too.

Mo: Curious about how we get interest at different ages.
Can there be parallel programming for the parents?
Tricia: Journalists and librarians are conduits for actual understanding.
Street cred to what we do!
Make partnerships so kids can see actual scientists.

Molly Jane: Get comic artists to do signings.

Samantha: Co-programming is good.
Why do you think women are less represented in your groups?
It’s empowering to meet other women interested. Library can be a place where that happens.

Tricia: The Safety to be As Weird As You Are
When they started Nerdette it was to give women a space.
Libraries can take up the community conversation being dropped by newspapers

Mo: Perception is a problem. What books do you highlight? In history, women were not seen as any less capable with computer science.

Emily: Lots of thoughts in my Mind Palace about women in geekdom
We call the shots on what’s cool.
We don’t have enough positive female role models in these fields.
Take a stance on issues! Highlight women scientists!
You can expand people’s ideas of what games can do.
Games as narrative.
Parents do bristle at things marketed for boys or for girls.
Public librarians: Reach out to the community colleges.
Steer young people to the special programs.
First Robotics programs (free, online).

Tricia: Don’t be apologetic to ask the community for help!

Mo: You only need one person super passionate about things to make things work.

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