Girl Geeks from around the Bay rang in the new year and broke in Palantir’s new event space with Girl Geek Dinner #32, which focused on philanthropy, technology, and the opportunities presented by both for women worldwide.
Lucy Bernholz, visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, opened the night with her thoughts on the future of philanthropy. She argued that as the quantity and quality of collected data increases, philanthropy will move from being an industry fueled by people’s passion to an industry driven by data. She urged the Girl Geeks in attendance to contribute to this shift by finding ways to share and engage data to drive change in the social sector.
Bernholz’s vision of the future is Chelsea Geyer’s reality. Geyer is a Project Developer at Resolve, which uses software donated by Palantir to understand and analyze the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the fundamentalist religious group responsible for brutal human rights violations across large parts Africa, and made infamous by the Kony 2012 video. Resolve uses data about past LRA attacks to better understand their movements and try to project who, where, and how the LRA will attack next. By analyzing the data with Palantir’s software, Geyer and Resolve are creating an ever-evolving trail of evidence that could be used if members of the LRA were ever brought to the International Criminal Court.
While there was heavy emphasis on how technology could be used for good throughout the night, Mary Quigley, a Palantir Gotham user, touched on how technology can increasingly be used for bad. At the major financial institution where she works, Quigley is responsible for preventing cyber attacks, including denial-of-service attacks, which would cripple the institution’s network if successful. Her experiences serve as a reminder to our community to continue working to improve the tools that can be used to counter bad actors and their constantly adapting tactics.
To end the night, Maura O’Neill, Chief Innovation Officer at USAID, told the Girl Geeks about how much technology has evolved in her lifetime and what that has meant for women worldwide. She also spoke about a problem that technology has so far not been able to solve: equal treatment in the workplace. O’Neill shared her own experiences with this problem. In the past she was overlooked for promotions that her male colleagues received. Just last month, she was brazenly asked to take notes at a dinner reception. O’Neill urged the women in the room to pave a path that their mothers would be proud of, and that their daughters could continue to march along.
It was a powerful end to an evening of compelling talks. The night continued with demonstrations of Palantir’s software, flip-book making, and conversations over cocktails.
Bay Area Girl Geek Dinners, hosted by companies around the Bay, present chances for women in technology to meet, socialize, and learn from each other’s experiences. Palantir hosted its first Girl Geek Dinner in May 2011, which featured Linda Krieg, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. For information about the next Girl Geek Dinner, visit: http://www.bayareagirlgeekdinners.com