This past saturday in Beijing marked the historical launch of Girls in Tech China, the first ever country chapter of this worldwide association that aims to bring together and empower women in Tech. The invite-only event was held at CNEX cafe which was also home to TEDx Beijing a few months ago and if i may say, the launch was a smashing success against all odds.
There was enough said about how it all started in my 10 questions with good friend and founder, Jenny Bai who, as everyone in attendance learned, suffers from jetsetter syndrome. So let’s focus instead on the launch itself!
I’ve been to a few “Geek-centric” events in Beijing over the past year and not one of them started on time, this one was no exception. In their defense, CNEX is in a pretty obscure location in Beijing and most people don’t venture to that side of town on a regular basis. Still, those extra minutes waiting for things to get started presented a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet new ones.
The event was kickstarted with a brief introductions covering Girls in Tech, the advisors and the team behind the China chapter all leading to a screening of a beta version of Siok Siok’s Twittamentary.
This was one of the first screenings ever of the yet-unfinished crowdsourced documentary about Twitter that she filmed last year on a cross-america trek.. the screening was extremely appropriate given that micro-blogging in general and twitter in particular were at the heart of the debate for the day. The documentary gave us glimpses of how the technology was being used beyond the social aspect of it by restaurant managers, wall street traders, people on a diet and even a homeless person. I’m not gonna go into too much details as it is still a work in progress but every one i spoke to that day was impressed and looking forward to the final product. Some hightlights were:
“@iheartbeijing: it used to be that we had to fit ourselves to the world, and now we just have to hope that the world will fit around us” #GITChina
@franyu: What’s more surreal than tweeting about a documentary while watching the documentary. U hear clack clack of tweeters around us, #gitchina
@doctoro 33% of American teens send 100+ texts a day while hardly any use Twitter. Are we early adopters or just old? 😉
After all the tweets and retweets, the keyboard athletes were quite thirsty and that was an appropriate time for the introduction of the official Girls in Tech drink: Girls in TechQuila. Beijing Boyce himself did the honors explaining the process of coming up with the recipe and some of the problems he had to overcome in creating it, a process that he has outlined on his blog
The mood was substantially gigglier and more relaxed after a few cocktails and it seemed appropriate to move on to a panel discussion with some heavy hitters of the media industry in China and moderated by Siok Siok Tan, with speakers Cindy Jiang, Anita Huang, Loretta Chang, and Scarlett Li who represented a wide range of organizations like Tudou, MTV, WSJ, Mobinode, etc.. a few highlights:
@iheartbeijing: @davidatsg feminism doesn’t work without the participation of men #GITChina
@iheartbeijing: women can become the centers of their own universe via weibo and twitter #GITChina
@frankyu: Panel: microblogging and social media helps to empower women because it gives them a voice #gitchina
@jennybai: microblogging has broken down gender walls. it’s not so much about males and females, but rather about individuals #GITChina panel
For more details on the discussion and a different perspective, check out Elizabeth Evan’s piece here and keep an eye on the Girls in Tech China website for a video of the panel discussion.
Overall, it was a successful event introducing the girls in tech and it will hopefully bring a lot of these ladies together. As some attendees noticed, there was quite an overlap of crowds between Geeks on a Plane, TEDx Beijing and this particular event but there were also a whole slew of new faces that made it into the inner sanctum on Beijing’s Geek militia. Here’s to starting a movement and keeping the dialogue going especially when they look great doing it… and the ladies looked great! As I tweeted during the event, there were some smart sassy ladies sharing their knowledge …
Special props go out to the team that put all of this together working around 3 timezones and especially Jenny Bai who was available throughout the event and even made a great speech via skype all the way from New York City. She was there with us in spirit and as a giant floating head on a macbook pro that was being moved around all afternoon to keep an eye on things and chat to attendees.