Girl Geeks Gather to Dine, Discuss, Develop Networks

by Monica Spehar

It’s girl geek time.

In a male-dominated industry, women in tech are creating communities, sidestepping barriers and developing robust networks.

We’re finding ways to foster these connections. Last week, we sponsored the 100th Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner, at our Silicon Valley campus. The event sold out in less than an hour and drew more than 200 women, with a waiting list just as long. By connecting women in tech, the event helps advance those early in their careers, supports those looking to lead, offers insight into how tech companies operate and helps create a diverse pool from which to recruit.

Jen-Hsun Huang, NVIDIA CEO, addresses Girl Geek Dinner attendees.
NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang addresses Girl Geek Dinner attendees.

“I believe this is the time of the girl geek,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, NVIDIA’s co-founder and chief executive officer, at the event. “If we don’t add women to technology, we deprive the world of technologists it needs. In a few years, we’re going to have a numbers problem.”

Girl Geek Dinner attendees try out a demo with Google cardboard and an NVIDIA tablet.
Girl Geek Dinner attendees try out a demo with Google cardboard and an NVIDIA SHIELD tablet.

We invited leaders from some of our different business units to speak. We also highlighted some of the technical work we’re doing in deep learning and self-driving cars, provided a hands-on demo of our SHIELD TV, and held tours of our eSports Studio.

At NVIDIA, we’re focused on supporting women technologists by creating a workplace that’s diverse, retaining women working in tech and building a pipeline of women and minorities working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

Driving these efforts forward is our Women in Technology group, which hosts quarterly networking and informational sessions.

We also sponsor ventures, like the Girl Geek Dinner, that connect women with each other locally, so they can build the networks that will help grow their ranks.

Diversity remains a hot topic in high tech. We want to accelerate the progress of women and other minorities at tech companies. Women make up 26 percent of the computing workforce in 2013, according to the National Center of Women & Information Technology’s most recent statistics. Retention is a problem as about 56 percent of women in technology leave their employers mid-career.

Girl Geek guests dine while checking out demos.
Girl Geek guests checking out demos.

Women attending the Girl Geek Dinner noted that women network differently than men. Instead of talking only about their job, the women spoke about the environment they work in.

Some attendees love gaming and support more games directed toward women players. They were keen to hear of opportunities for women engineers and how women leaders in tech manage their careers.

The event also helped raise funds for Hackbright Academy, an engineering school for women. Our CEO and other NVIDIA execs matched funds raised by attendees to provide a grand total of $12,000.