A celebration of female geekiness!
by Diana Gener | Arts & Entertainment Editor
If you see people dressed up as super heroes, comic book characters or video game characters, you know there is a geek convention going on. And when females are the spotlight of the event, you know you are at GeekGirlCon. That’s what happened in Seattle on October 19th and 20th: a true celebration of female geekiness.
Now in its third year, GeekGirlCon has grown in scale. This was the first time that the event took place at the Seattle Conference Center. The convention also grew in content. Visitors encountered new features such as a Science Space, where adults and children could experiment under the guidance of scientists; an Artist Alley, where independent artists had room to sell their artwork; and a giant Gaming Room, which offered board games and gaming workshops as well as console gaming. The Connection Center, a networking hub, was expanded to include a permanent center with industries related to science, technology, comics and video games. Even though new things were added, the core goal of GeekGirlCon did not change: to “promote and help to recognize women and their contributions in geek culture,” said Susie Rantz, PR Manager of GeekGirlCon.
Tickets were sold out. From early in the morning, people wearing costumes or everyday outfits started to ramble through the four floors where events were happening. All kinds of people – men, women, boys, girls, children and families – filled the Conference Center. “I really like GeekGirlCon’s message of inclusivity and equality for anyone who wants to get into the geek community,” commented Rachel Ashby, an attendee. A friendly and diverse environment was one of the differences that some of the participants pointed out when comparing GeekGirlCon to other geek events. “It’s one of the most positive experiences I’ve ever had in a convention. I’ve been in DragCon and in so many different conventions, but this one has a positive energy and it’s so collaborative, and that’s really necessarily and important,” opined Chaka Cymberbatch, a panelist speaking on race and identity.
Some of the women pointed out that they felt more relaxed at GeekGirlCon because they were not being harassed. “When geek girls go to conventions it is hard for them to find a safe space; you’re almost expected to be harassed and to be bothered,” said Cumberbatch. Chandri, another participant, said, “It’s the only con that I know that actually cares about female fans because in other cons I don’t feel I am the focus, even if the ratio is pretty even. They tend to market it as if women are the exception, and you get the feeling that you are not the one they care about.”
But GeekGirlCon does care. Diverse panels, many career-focused, were held during both days, all about women and science; technology; education; comic books; video games; female character creation; design; and other issues related to geek culture.
In spite of being a celebration of female geekiness, there wasn’t a feeling of discrimination at GeekGirlCon: “It is so cool, there is a sense of camaraderie wherever you go,” commented Ty Landercasper, a male who participated in the event. And the atmosphere of being in a dreamworld was carried outside the walls of the Conference Center. As Landercasper commented: “if you play video games and you read comics this is like a bubble because in the outside world you don’t get that at all, it is amazing being in a place where everything comes together.” That is what GeekGirlCon was: a place where everything and everybody came together.