Girl Geek Scotland (GGS), formed in 2009, enables women to develop a career-long mutual support network through dinners, fundraisers, business breakfasts, research projects and skills workshops.
Edinburgh Napier University is taking over as parent organisation and partner, and hosted an event for 200 guests, which was addressed by Nicola Sturgeon, Girl Geek founder Morna Simpson, the University’s Principal, Professor Andrea Nolan, and Sally Smith, Dean of the School of Computing.
Girl Geek Scotland recognises the need to tackle skills shortages by making technology-based working environments as welcoming as possible and redressing the gender balance in a currently unequal workforce.
Speakers bring their personal life into discussions about business, with functions including a strong focus on work-life balance and women who have been successful in male-dominated environments.
Events are often themed around common challenges facing tech-based start-ups, such as finding investment and growing a product user base.
GGS dinners which have been held in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen have helped build social and career networks, and provided opportunities to learn from leaders in the field. The events have helped establish the Girl Geek brand across the UK and even in America’s Silicon Valley.
In 2016, the network aims to consolidate these connections, especially with London, and to look east to develop new relationships with female leaders in the IT industries of Vietnam and India.
Although GGS is marketed towards women, it also recognises the need to include men because of the support they can offer in working towards a gender-balanced working environment.
Girl Geek founder Morna Simpson said: “We have a reputation for our high quality events, that weave together a community of inspiring women. I'm very excited to launch this ambitious programme in collaboration with like-minded partners.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “A career in digital technology and industries is something women have traditionally been less likely to pursue than their male peers. Organisations like Girl Geek Scotland not only help Scotland in its ambition to create more women entrepreneurs, but they also allow women to discover the opportunities and benefits that a career in technology can bring.
“I admire and support the work of Girl Geek Scotland to help address the gender imbalance within the sector’s workforce, which is a vital part of our own ambition and efforts to develop a world class digital economy in Scotland.”
Edinburgh Napier University currently holds an Athena SWAN bronze award, which recognises its work on gender equality and supporting women’s careers in science, technology and engineering. Individual Schools are now investigating the feasibility of applying for a silver award in the November round of applications.
Sally Smith, Dean of Edinburgh Napier’s School of Computing, said: “Our strengthened relationship with Girl Geek will support our application for the charter. The Girl Geek events are an excellent way to reignite our passion for technology and reclaim the toys from the boys, ensuring that we retain both our female staff and our students.”
Girl Geek Scotland will also be working with Bright Red Triangle, an Edinburgh Napier-based one-stop shop for extra-curricular student enterprise activities which supports links to the community through start-ups, incubator space, consultancy services and social innovation projects.
Professor Andrea Nolan, Principal of Edinburgh Napier University, said: “The University, like the whole of the higher education sector, has a role to play in helping create a world-beating digital ecosystem for Scotland.
“Key to this is ensuring that our businesses draw talent from across the workforce. Inclusivity is one of our core values and as a University we have a great track record in supporting women’s careers, a record which will only be enhanced through our association with Girl Geek Scotland.”
Our picture shows -left to right - Professor Andrea Nolan, Nicola Sturgeon, Morna Simpson and Jane Grant of Bright Red Triangle.