Panel Name: Women in the Geek Industry
Topic: Five women who work in the field of Geek discuss their various positions and how they broke into the industry.
Featured Guests: Bonnie Burton, Jen Timms, Taffeta Darling, Tiffany Wangerin, and Maureen Elsberry with moderation by Kirei.
As soon as the panel began and this group of lively outspoken women started joking about who’d been drinking wine, who’d been drinking whiskey, and whether or not the panel would be at its best if the imbibing continued I knew I was at home. The jokes continued on for a few minutes before introductions came, and when they did I was kind of blown away at these women’s amazing resumes. First off, there was Bonnie Burton. She worked for LucasFilm on various Star Wars projects until the Disney take over a few years back. Now she is mostly a freelance writer and author, and she hosts the Vaginal Fantasy Book Club. Second was Maureen Elsbury, who is a professional UFO and paranormal researcher as well as a journalist on the subject, and the co-host of Spacing Out. Third was Taffeta Darling, a professional cosplayer and producer and host of The Fangirls of Dallas. Fourth was Jen Timms, a video game producer for United Front and Games, and fifth was Tiffany Wangerin, a professional cosplayer and co-host of the Sheekery Podcast with panel moderator Kirei.
Once introductions were out of the way the main focus in the panel was the various fields you can get into in the geek industry and how accessible that dream is for women these days. It’s not specifically that the dream is easier for women (I’ll get to that later) but breaking into the geek industry is so much more possible now because of the popularity in do-it-yourself mediums. Bonnie said that one of the best ways to start a career is to be a freelance writer. Anyone is capable of staring a blog at this day and age, and if you work at it and focus and promote yourself appropriately, people will start to take notice. You can go from having your one blog to being a contributing writer for other sites and blogs and really just launch from there. Tafetta touched on how anyone can make a podcast these days. You can do it yourself or with a few friends, but all that matters is that the chance to get your voice and opinions out there is within all of our grasps. The most important part in getting out there these days is the confidence to just do it.
However, women are more welcome in the geek industry now, but there is still a long road ahead. Geek is still a male dominated field. For example, Maureen made a point to acknowledge that she is the only female host on the show Spacing Out. There is no road paved in gold for women in any industry, and the geek one is no different. All of these women found success because they are strong, intelligent, and refused to be put down in a male dominated field.
One of the most incredible parts of this panel was the camaraderie between these women. Even though only two of them worked together and they mostly did not know one another there was an undeniable feeling that they were all in this together. There was something so incredibly empowering about being able to sit in on this panel and I walked out of it with a super feminist high. I am so glad I was able to attend the Women in the Geek Industry panel; it was so inspiring. It was wonderful to see how many other people attended as well, both men and women. All five women were so badass, smart, and funny that I wanted to be just like them. And wasn’t that ultimately the goal of their panel? It wasn’t necessarily supposed to be super educational and a how-to on success. It was supposed to help women of all ages find confidence in their goals and dreams so they could leave the room thinking “I want to be just like them, and I will be.”