Best of Systers, Community Voices

Systers Meetups: Making a Global Impact Through Local Community Involvement

Dr. Anita Borg, the founder of our Systers email community and for Women and Technology, would have been 63 this year. She was a pioneer in Computer Science and an advocate in recruiting, retaining and advancing women in computing fields. Systers is a community of 3,000+ technical women with vibrant discussions about technology, women issues and how we can make a positive impact on the world by increasing the number of women in computer science, providing personal and professional advice in family and career challenges as well as share information and experiences to the community.

On or around January 17, 2012 Systers celebrated Anita Borg’s birthday with first global meetups in cities across the globe. The meetups were open to all technical women which gave potential members of Systers an opportunity to learn more about, Systers, and the annual Grace Hopper Celebration.  Additionally, women discussed ways to introduce computing fields to young girls and women in their local communities; a call-to-action goal to not only help to increase the number of women in computing fields, but be more engaged at grassroots level.

One of the main reasons for the meetup was to gather Systers at local levels and also invite other technical women in the area. Below is a map of our global meetups. A few of the meetups are discussed below, but all the meetups paid tribute to Anita, engaged in great conversations and outlined a Call to Action for their communities.

Systers Meetup — Global Map


Silicon Valley/SF Bay Area Meetup:

Our largest meetup took place in Silicon Valley/San Francisco Bay Area. The meetup was 75+ technical women strong.  It was held at the Mountain View Masonic Center. Chiu-ki Chan, was the organizer for this meetup and wrote an incredible blog post about the event. A great number of Systers are located in the Bay Area.

Systers Meetup at Geek Girl Dinner Brazil:

One of the International meetup in Brazil was organized by Barbara Flores at the Geek Girl Dinner meeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The meet up was a tribute to Anita Borg. Brazilian Systers showed up in full force and paid a wonderful tribute to Anita by a big Happy Birthday at the end. The group even edited their own video of the event. You can view the video below. Please note, the video is in Portuguese, but the message is very clear.

Geek Girl Dinners Brazil — Edição Especial Anita Borg

Systers Meetup in Tokyo for GLIDE celebration:

Our Syster located in Japan, Marilia Melo, set up the meetup in Tokyo and they had a great turnout. The meetup was held during a GLIDE New Year’s party. GLIDE, Girls Leading in Development and Engineering is one of Google’s tech program. Attendees were past BOLD interns and Anita Borg scholars. They had a great turn out!

View Tokyo Systers Photos

Atlanta Systers Meetup:

The one thing Atlanta (where I am located) Systers wanted to do was NOT let the global meetup be the last meetup. Atlanta Systers met again in March to discuss how to help young middle school girls learn more about Computer Science and inform them of computing fields. We are currently planning on the best approach and have Atlanta Systers that have previous experience in starting a program just for middle school girls learn more about Computer Science and computing fields.

In the end, the meetups were truly successful in that it allowed Systers to meet face-to-face so that they can be more engaged at a local level, it helped spark the Call To Action for each community to spread the word about Computer Science to young girls and women and it also paid tribute to our founder, Dr. Anita Borg. As a community of women in technology, we invite all women to join Systers and engage. Together we are a force to be reckon with by making a global positive social impact through local engagement.