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Vexed in the city: a discussion night on being a woman in tech

Are women their own worst enemy? Do we pull the ladder up behind us on the way to the top? Is there still a glass ceiling? Can women compete as programmers and at the end of the day, can we really have it all?

There are lots of groups now devoted to women working in tech, but are we making the difference to match the effort? Are all these different meetups simply the manifestation of different female egos or are we giving women the tools, support and confidence they need?

You wanted more conversation and we're dedicating November to an interactive discussion night! Hoorah. We have a fantastic panel lined up to talk through their own experiences and share some solutions with the group. Please join us and extend the invite to any brave husbands/partners/colleagues who have courage to come along and share their points of view.

This evening is open to everyone!

May we present to you our esteemed panelists:

Laura Plant


Laura Lyn Plant is a Director at Ladies Learning Code and Co-Founder of HackerYou (@llcodedotcom and @thisishackeryou). The link between technology and human relationships fascinates her. This has ignited a personal passion for exploring and helping others – women and girls in particular – to learn how to leverage and evolve technology to help us be more effective.

Follow Laura on Twitter @lauralynplant


Cassie McDaniel


Cassie recently designed a Women in Tech app and released the psds under a Creative Commons license, which evolved to the founding of Women&&Tech (@WomenAndTech). The group has pledged to interview 50 women tech leaders in Toronto to get under the skin of issues they face working in this field and to understand where the group could help. This is a spare-time project, though, and Cassie spends the majority of her days designing health applications at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation.

Follow Cassie on Twitter @cassiemc

Hannah Mittelstaedt


Hannah is a mobile app developer at Xtreme Labs, and is currently finishing her Computer Engineering degree at U of T. She fell in love with programming at a math and science high school in NYC, and since then has been having a great time developing in Toronto and Silicon Valley.

Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahmitt

Shanta Nathwani


A graduate in IT Management from Ryerson University, Shanta Nathwani excels at training and customer service specializing in the IT spheres. She works as an Instructor at Sheridan College and an Independent IT and Social Media Consultant for small businesses.

She is the Founder of Women in Technology Hamilton, the Alumni Advisor for the Women in ITM program at Ryerson University and has been in the tech field for most of her career. She is an IT professional with solid technical skills, a passion for client satisfaction combined with 18 years experience in leadership, consultative, instructional, social media and project management roles. She started programming using BASIC on her ATARI 800XL thanks to her father’s guidance and encouragement. Her latest technology exploits involve developing and designing in WordPress when she’s not teaching Web Design.

Follow Shanta on Twitter @TantienHime

Miriam Verburg

Miriam Verburg specializes in creating inspiring online and mobile products for children, youth & women, shaping experiences that help people feel good about themselves and the world.

With over 10 years experience developing and managing new media projects for the private sector and non-profit organizations she has a comprehensive knowledge of users with specialized needs. Her agency BloomDigital offers a la carte project management, user experience consultation, and digital strategy for consumer-facing health technology initiatives, in particular those geared towards young people.

Miriam is a member of the women’s gaming collective DMG-TO, Interactive Ontario, and a faculty member at Centennial College in the Interactive Digital Media and Children’s Entertainment post-graduate programs.

Follow Miriam on Twitter @mirverburg

The evening will be moderated by:

Lindsay Munro

Lindsay’s interest in emerging technologies and talkative nature fuel her passion for social networking platforms. Always willing to try out a platform once, Lindsay spends a lot of time researching and experimenting with the next big thing online. As the co-host of the weekly 49Pixels Live podcast, Lindsay dives deeper into topics surrounding emerging social technologies, advertising, marketing and entrepreneurship, alongside Justin Kozuch. Lindsay recently joined Kanetix, a web-based financial services company, as a digital communications strategist. Prior to Kanetix, Lindsay was the manager of conversation for international design and technology events company, FITC.

Follow Lindsay on Twitter @lindsaymunro

The evening will be sketchnoted by:

Sacha Chua

Sacha Chua is on a five-year experiment to learn about business and life. She wants to see just how much someone can learn, share, and scale. Refusing to be pigeon-holed into left-brain or right-brain, her curiosity ranges from the ultra-geeky load-balancing of her closet and other self-tracking endeavors at quantifiedawesome.comto visual sketchnotes of books and events, which she shares on her blog at LivingAnAwesomeLife.com. She's passionate about helping people make things happen.

Follow Sacha on Twitter @sachac


Oh look! We've got some goodies to give away, too!

We will be giving away a ticket to FITC's Spotlight: Responsive Design event happening Saturday, December 1. This spotlight covers all aspects of responsive design: "you will learn the essentials of using media queries, setting breakpoints and using CSS to adapt your layouts. You'll discover how frameworks like Twitter Bootstrap can make development easier and you'll learn when using a responsive approach makes sense and in what scenarios another strategy might be better." The ticket value is $139!

We'll also be giving away two tickets to the global hackathon Angelhack December 1 - 2, and it's the first year it's being held in Toronto! This is your opportunity to roll up your sleeves and be part of this epic event. Remember, you don't have to be a developer for this. Join a team as a design, a project manager, or idea ninja! There are tons of prizes including the top 25 teams worldwide being flown to Silicon Valley to pitch their project! Want to find a team ahead of time? Join event hosts Hackernest on November 26 for team matching. Tickets are already sold out so you can only win them. Ticket value is $78.

SYPA (Stuff You'll Probably Ask)

You: The front door of ING is locked. How do I get in?

Us: Evening entrance to the ING DIRECT Cafe is through the side door off of Shuter Street. You need to be buzzed in, and we will have someone at the door from 6:30pm to 7:15pm.

You: Why is there a $10 charge?

Us: Some months we get help (sponsorship) with food and drink and some months we organize this ourselves. We usually make a small loss, but don't mind, because we're really passionate about the meetup and network.

You: What time do the presentations start?

Us: Doors open at 6:30pm and we aim to begin the discussion at 7:00pm. Before and after the talks, there are opportunities for conversation, and the enjoyment of drinks and hors d'oeuvres.

Please note your photograph may be taken by Girl Geeks Toronto or others to be published for any purposes such as use on our website and other social media platforms.

Join or login to comment.

  • RK

    NYT article about Microsoft engineers teaching high school part time in an effort to get more computer science grads:"“People can’t get jobs, and we have jobs that can’t be filled,” The engineers who are current on exciting tech but may not have teaching skills are paired with teachers. Sounds like an idea that should be tried to get female role models in front of students.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/01/technology/microsoft-sends-engineers-to-schools-to-encourage-the-next-generation.html?pagewanted=all

    November 20, 2012

  • RK

    Confidence and self-image of women related to roles in tech came up in the discussion last night. I found this related talk to be quite helpful: http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

    November 20, 2012

  • RK

    Thanks for the efforts of the organizers and panelists. I was hopeful when Rachel said the panel would be 'interactive' but then disappointed that most of the session was a discussion of questions that did not seem to come from the audience and didn't interest me personally. You noted that it's difficult to get female speakers, but then assumed that the audience was not knowledgeable. Having said that, there were some great insights from the panelists.

    November 20, 2012

  • Nancy C

    It was a very engaging discussion. I wish it had been longer! You could tell that everyone feels passionately about this topic and had so much to say about it!

    November 20, 2012

  • Elisa

    It is clearly obvious that the barriers of women entering tech can be solved by approaching girls at a young age, but in all honesty - it takes more than just after school programs to make it happen. We have to approach the ministry of education. I find it ridiculous that computer science (or even business tech) is not a required course in high school. High school is about preparing you for the real world, and the real world has vastly changed in the past 5-10 years. As such, the curriculum needs to be constantly updated. I like how some panelists talked about career development and work-life balance. I wish that it was emphasized a little more.

    I found that the panel was dominated by non-developers, and it would have helped to have a woman on the panel who had already gone through most of her career and education as a software developer.

    Also, please tone down the flash photography. My eyes were really strained at the end of the night.

    Overall I really enjoyed the meetup!

    November 19, 2012

  • Shanta R. N.

    Really looking forward to this. Let's sell it out!

    1 · November 13, 2012

  • TG Wah (aka A.

    Is there any way to pay through interac email rather than paypal?

    November 7, 2012

    • Caroline M.

      You're welcome and hope your classes are going well. Sorry you can't make it, but we will have a recap of the event so you can catch up.

      November 7, 2012

    • TG Wah (aka A.

      Much appreciated. Look forward to the recap. I'll be going to Accessibility Toronto.

      November 7, 2012

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