Girl geeks get supportive over coffee
Tuesday, 17 July 2012 16:17

geeksFemale 'geeks' at the University of Canberra are meeting over coffee as part of a new support and networking group.

Sponsored by Google, Girl Geek Coffee groups have been established in many universities internationally and now the University of Canberra has its own group: 'GGC UC'.

The group is currently open to females studying higher degree research (HDR) in the Faculty of Information Sciences and Engineering (ISE), and is aiming to meet at the beginning and end of each semester.

First-year PhD student Jyoti Dhall introduced the initiative to the University and said the group is about "inspiring and motivating" female students in the ISE faculty.

"The coffee provides for a relaxing environment that is informal so you can come, relax and enjoy. Sometimes you just need a break," Ms Dhall said.

Dean of the faculty, Professor Dharmendra Sharma, is excited to see the group start and believes it reinforces the faculty's support of its female students.

"The initiative is a celebration of our faculty's vision, we have a high number of quality female HDR students. It's a benefit to our faculty and the University as well," Professor Sharma said.

The first session was held last week at the University bar Zierholz @ UC and received positive feedback from the participants.

Maryam Haddad is studying a Masters by research and said the laid-back meetings will encourage her in her work.

"It's a good idea to have a casual event, normally you're on your own. It'll make it interesting, it's informal and you feel supported, it gives you motivation," she said.

Final-year PhD student, Tania Churchill, said the group gave her an opportunity to talk to fellow students who understand the troubles she may face.

"It's good to have a support network, everyone goes through the same issues so to talk about that will be really helpful especially in a male dominated industry," she said.

Aldah Diamah is in her second year of a professional doctorate and agrees the all female group is beneficial.

"Sometimes it feels very intimidating in a male dominated industry, sometimes I'll be the only female in a room. To find some other girls in the same field is very comforting," she said.

Girl Geek Coffee groups started in Queensland in 2009 and are now found at universities internationally, which Professor Sharma said is a beneficial opportunity for networking.

"It's happening worldwide and at other universities so we'd like to join the network, it benefits us and we can benefit them through networking," he said.

Ms Dhall agrees and hopes in the future the group will combine with other clubs in the ACT to make a state "super group".

GGC UC also aims to extend to female undergraduate students in the ISE faculty.

"It's a good opportunity to mentor undergraduate students so we're developing plans on how best to approach this," she said.