Girl Geek Dinner in Johannesburg

I attended my very first Girl Geek Dinner at Col’ Cacchio in Benmore yesterday. My expectations were high as I have always seen the tweets from past events and the event looked quite cool. Tickets sell out extremely fast, after a few hours they are all snapped up. Before I tell you about the event I’m sure you are wondering what are Girl Geek Dinners. It’s an informal organization in 23 countries that promotes women in the information technology industry. The Johannesburg bi-monthly dinners were founded by Leigh-Ann Fowle. The idea of the dinner is to give women the opportunity to connect support and empower each other. 

Tickets are paid for via EFT which I didn’t mind but the confirmation email lacked any detail. It being my first event I thought things only started at 6:30 but you should ideally get there at least 30 minutes earlier. We got our name tags and goodie bags outside before going inside the restaurant. Now this is where all the confusion started. I only saw tables with company names on and there was no one inside to direct you. I didn’t know where I could find a seat/where I could sit/where I was allowed to sit. I proceeded upstairs where there was an Xbox dance demonstration (very cool – dance mats are so last season!) as well  as a skin mapping by Tusc. I have heard great things about skin mapping but my time was wasted as I was informed it was too dark to see anything so random Dermalogica products were ticked on a page and handed to me. 

I went downstairs still confused as to where to sit or what was going on so I asked a waiter who much to my horror showed me to a table outside. There were three tables outside and ours seemed like an afterthought table as we didn’t get a heater or programs or cutlery like the other tables did. 

The ticket price of R200 certainly covers all the foods and drinks we got served. Starters was a delicious salad, vegetarian antipasto and focaccia. For mains there was an option of selected pizzas or pastas. I opted for the seasoned chicken, avo, feta and peppers (without the bacon). Dessert options included Italian kisses, caramel popcorn with ice cream and chocolate brownies. Hats off to Col’ Cacchio to handling a big event well. I was surprised my pizza was served hot given how many pizzas had to get made. Our waiter was also super friendly and checked on us even when we moved tables. 

The speakers of the evening were Emma Sadlier and Tamsyn de Beer. They have co-authored the book “Don’t film yourself having sex… And other legal advice for the age of social media”. These ladies are both super smart with a Masters in Law from London School of Economics. The ladies were on after we had our starters. I have a total girl crush on Emma who is just amazing. It’s not easy to be an eloquent, engaging, witty and interesting speaker all at the same time but she is. I was super glad I got to hear her speak. Emma went a bit over her time so Tamsyn had to rush through her segment. I thought it would have been better if the two speakers were split up during the course of the evening so they didn’t have to rush. Ladies were also quite rude chatting during the QnA session making it hard to hear.

A few thoughts from the talk that I thought I would share:

* Anything you put or share on the Internet is there forever. People will screenshot it faster than you can delete it.

* Liking, RT or favoriting a tweet or status means that you are agreeing and associating yourself with it.

* There is no such thing as a free product, all your data is being mined. Facebook, whatsapp and even gmail! I have seen plenty of articles on this but I will say it again to you anyway, DO NOT install Facebook messenger. The settings enables it to do scary things such as record, send an SMS etc without your permission. 

* Your online activity becomes your online CV.

* Private settings now doesn’t mean it will remain private in the future. Terms and conditions on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram can change and all your data can be made public before you can do anything about it.

* Don’t tweet when angry or drunk.

* After work activities that bring your company into disrepute will get you fired. Even if you don’t mention your company on any of your profiles a quick search can easily bring up this information.

* Don’t be a racist ever. Especially not on social media.

* Did you ever consider about what happens to your social media profile when you die?

* If you have kids is it really necessary to document their lives on social media for everyone to see? And especially so with the large number of paedophiles that exist.

After mains most of our table left because we were frozen at that point. Overall the event felt very commercialized – a well known tech blogger I chatted to afterwards agreed with me. Preference was given to companies who booked out tables and they socialize only amongst themselves. I would recommend that if you do go, make sure you take a buddy with. The evening was awkward for me as most people had their friends to chat to. Also since everyone at our table was freezing we didn’t really interact and chat much. It was difficult to enjoy sitting in the cold watching from an awkward angle without a heater or blanket. The event wasn’t special as I would have easily achieved the same outcome by hearing people speak at an auditorium and then leaving. Speaking to a few ladies there it seems that some people go with the intention of getting sloshed or just having a dinner out with their friends which doesn’t seem like the real reason the dinners started. 

Our sad goodie bag contained a beautiful (but stale biscuit), pens, 20% discount voucher on one cup only at Wakaberry (?!), an energy bar and energy tablets. We all had a good laugh at our table about the Wakaberry discount voucher which can also only be used at the Waterfall branch. I’m glad that the speakers were great otherwise I would have been even more disappointed. I fully understand the hard work that goes into organizing an event and while it seems that past dinners were better in terms of organization I can only go on what I can experienced first hand. I can tick this off the bucket list but I doubt I will be going again – I’ll follow the tweets on twitter next time.


Girls & Geeks,


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