If I were to envision what the San Francisco/Silicon Valley tech scene would be like, there would be open collaborative spaces, gigantic desktop monitors, ergonomic chairs, the hum and bustle of developers tapping out code while others chat away about whatever’s on the mind. And food. There should also be food.

Attending the Girl Geek Dinner this week was exactly that. Girl Geek Dinners happen once a month, bringing together women in technology for a panel discussion, dinner and swag, hosted by a tech company. And all for free! The dinners are very popular, so to get a space, you have to (a) join the mailing list, (b) sign up for a monthly lottery, and (c) reserve a spot within 24 hours if you get one. But by all means, give it a go, because it’s a great event.

The dinner last Wednesday was the first I attended. Though bite-sized, the food was delicious and plentiful, and there was ample time and space to strike up conversations with the other women (yes, men are also allowed) over a glass of wine and a pulled pork slider. The event was hosted in Atlassian‘s gorgeous new space. It reminded me of the New Academic Building at LSE (have I mentioned lately how much I miss London?):

The Atlassian’s office space in SOMA

 
The New Academic Building; photo at left by dinky cameraphone, photo at right by LSE.

On the panel, from left to right: Catherine Norman, Atlassian; Patricia Nakache, Trinity Ventures; Audra Eng, Atlassian; Poornima Vijayashanker, BizeeBee; Sarah Lacy, PandoDaily; and Rebecca Buckman, journalist.

The panel discussion was in effect an extension of the Sheryl Sandberg / Anne-Marie Slaughter conversation about women and work. Sarah Lacy was especially sassy, no excuses, no holds barred in her approach.

Takeaways? In addition to the hot chocolate and doughnuts, which I literally carried out with me as I left, the key takeaway was that I will definitely be signing up for these every month. There wasn’t one particular quote that blew my mind– but it’s inspiring just to be in the company of women who go for it, balance jobs and babies, follow their passion and make it happen. They make no excuses, issue no apologies.

Because more than ping pong tables, perks and collaborative workspaces, what characterizes the tech scene here is the entrepreneurial drive that these women have.

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