I’ll explain, but first, some background.
Normally, I celebrate International Women’s day by going to a party (which has become a tradition in Oslo. This year, Ladyfest is celebrating women for 9 days!), but I neither walked in a parade nor held a banner up high, March 8 is not a big deal in Brussels, which I think is rather sad. I went running in the park with my running group, had some delicious food at my favorite local market at Watermael-Boitsford, and went to the top of Atomium, the famous monument in Brussels of a gigantic atom, enlarged 165 million times.
Doesn’t sound like a proper women’s day celebration, you say?
But earlier last week, I went to some hardcore feminist events. I’ve written about Commissioner Viviane Redings Cyberella project (in Norwegian), i.e. how the Commission is trying to get more women interested in technology related studies and eventually jobs. EU expect a shortage of around 300, 000 qualified engineer in the EU area by 2010, and at the same time, we know that only 1 in 5 computer scientists are women. By releasing a “Code of Best Practice” , the Commission and 5 major tech companies want to give some guidelines for how to attract and keep the girls in the tech industry. This could work, but at the same time, the Commission has some serious gender problems within its own organizations, with no top female leaders in neither the Commission nor the European Parliament, something Commissioner Margot Wahlström has written about.
During the years, I’ve become a bigger supporter of action than theory. Also when it comes to feminism. Just for the record, my son and my daughter has my name as their last name, and my husband’s as their middle name. A little detail, but still.
I’ve done my fair share of feminist reading, Simone de Beauvoir, Germaine Greerer, Susan Faludi, Betty Friedan, to mention a few. For a young Scandinavian feminist, reading books such as Fittstim (1999) and Råtekst (1999, out of print?) opened my eyes, to say it mildly. I once interviewed the ultra-cool ladies of the American magazine Bust, who demanded that every girl should get a vibrator when they turn 13 years old (I originally wrote it for the regional newspaper Bergens Tidende, but it seems like a gay site is the only place to find the article:-)
After moving to Brussels, one of the big surprises the city had to offer was Brussels Girl Geek Dinners, a better concept then I could dream of. This week I’m going to two of the events organized by the amazing internet fanatic Clo Willaerts, one in Antwerp tonight about Kodu, a programming language for kids, as well as a presentation by the London Dinner founder, Sarah Blow on designing and developing for mobile devices. On Saturday, I’m going on a free (!) trip to London with the Girl Geeks on Eurostar, to meet Guardian blogger Molly Flatt and Jess Greenwood from Contagious Magazine. Previously, I’ve been to Geek Dinners about art and beauty, and every time, I had good and inspiring conversations with interesting people (both girls and boys – boys are allowed, if invited by a girl geek).
You see what I mean, isn’t this a great concept? Instead of talking about all the inequalities among men and women, and how invisible women are within the tech field, let’s do something about it. And have fun while doing it. Clo Willaerts says that she is not a feminist, but still she is doing an amazing job to promote smart tech girls and helping us build a valuable network.
And of course we need this in Oslo! I’m moving back to Norway in August (95 percent sure), and in addition to my Belgian beer favorites, I would love to bring the Girl Geek idea back home.
I need to sort out job- and child care matters first, but if you or anyone you know are interested in trying to build up the Oslo Girl Geek Dinners, let me know. And please pass on the link to this blog to spread the message.
I’ll do some serious research on the next few Brussels Girl Geek Dinners, and drain Clo Willaert and Sarah Blow for all the info they can give me.