This weekend sees the inaugural Geek Girl Con in Seattle, WA. GGC PR Director Kiri Callaghan graciously agreed to answer some of my questions via email. Check out the interview and get out to the show this weekend!
POP CULTURE ZOO: First, to clear any confusion, GeekGirlCon is not meant as a girls only convention, but is instead designed to celebrate geeky females and female roles in what is termed as geek media, correct?
KIRI CALLAGHAN: Exactly. Geek Girl Con focuses on the female contributions or involvement of Geek Culture but in no way do we wish to exclude anyone who wishes to join us regardless of gender, sexual preference, race, creed or bubble-gum flavor.
PCZ: Can you give us an idea of what kind of programming we can expect at this show?
KC: We’ve tried to hit a wide scope with programming. The list of what falls under ‘geeky’ is kind of enormous, but Jen K Stuller has done an amazing job organizing a diverse program for our first convention. We’ve got everything from panels on geek lifestyle that talk about things from finding love through World of Warcraft to tips on parenting geeky children. We have geek-related crafts, panels about starting your own community, both women and men talking about their experience in the industry… It’s going to be awesome. I’m just going to sum it up with that: awesome. Pure awesome.
PCZ: The term “geek” has previously been a rather close-mindedly pejorative term. Nowadays it seems almost to be the new term for cool. Do you think the broader acceptance of what a geek is has helped women be more open and comfortable about being geeks?
KC: Being a geek is about being passionate about something. These days you can sort of attach it to things that people wouldn’t necessarily consider ‘geeky’–Fashion geek, for instance. It means you’re really passionate about a subject, almost to the point of obsession. I think the evolution of that word has helped a lot of people, both men and women, ‘come out of the TARDIS’ so to speak.
PCZ: What are some of the overall goals Geek Girl Con hopes to achieve?
KC: We want to be a safe place for people to come together and be who they are. The Geek community may be a strange one, it may even still be surprisingly small when you look at the grand scheme of things—but it’s imperative that we support each other. I think that’s what Geek Girl Con is really about when you get to the heart of it; making family out of community. If we also happen to make the female demographic more visibility in the industry in the process, even better.
PCZ: Geek Girl Con has certainly made its presence known this year with appearances at other shows as well as many cool activities. What has been the response to the idea of Geek Girl Con so far?
KC: We’ve had to dispel some serious misconceptions and of course we’ve met our share of criticisms but honestly, we’ve had amazingly positive responses. The community has been extremely accepting and embraced us. We’ve had people really eager to help—we had so many people contact us to be a part of our programming. It’s exciting.
PCZ: What have you learned from doing PR for Geek Girl Con?
KC: If someone is honestly wanting to know and isn’t trying to troll or argue for the sake of argument? It’s always worth the time of trying to clear up misunderstandings—regardless how much conversation it may take. Because that person, once they fully understand what we’re about, they’re going to pass that on when they meet someone with the same misunderstandings they originally had. Word of mouth is an amazing thing.
PCZ: As a geek and a girl yourself, who are some of you inspirations in the world of sci-fi/fantasy?
KC: Writers. I draw nearly all of my inspiration from the writers behind my favorite sci-fi/fantasy. Pretty much every writer to have worked for BioWare (their stories/worlds never fail to captivate me), Joss Whedon and everyone who helped him with his projects, especially Maurissa Tancharoen, the writing team who worked on Deep Space Nine. To me, the writing and story itself are the bones of any great work. It doesn’t matter how meaty your budget is, or how fantastic your actors are, if the writing is crap, it all falls apart.
PCZ: For you, personally, what made you want to be involved with Geek Girl Con?
KC: I was given a flier at last year’s PAX and so out of curiosity I went to one of the All-Hands meetings, might have been the 2nd one they had and I was sort of just overwhelmed with the energy. Here were all of these people so full of passion and life who were all psyched about the idea of celebrating the female geek. Female geeks tend to get a lot of criticism, even from our fellow female geeks and yet here was a group where that feeling didn’t seem to exist. The air felt loaded during that meeting, like when you know something big is about to happen. I knew this was something worth my time, something that could change the status quo so to speak… “Because the status… is not quo.” – Doc Horrible
PCZ: Assuming all goes well, is Geek Girl Con planning to be back in Seattle next year?
KC: Definitely. We’re hoping to make Geek Girl Con an annual event.
Thank you to Kiri Callaghan for taking the time to answer my questions. Be sure to check out Geek Girl Con this weekend in Seattle, WA!